Super League legend Paul Sculthorpe believes tackle height laws could cause more concussions

SUPER LEAGUE and England legend Paul Sculthorpe believes that the new tackle height laws could actually cause more concussions.

By 2025, a tackle above the armpit will be deemed illegal in the professional game with that rule coming into being for 2024 for the amateur game.

There has been an increasing emphasis on player safety and reducing the risk of impact and concussion in recent years – with a number of ex-players taking action against the Rugby Football League with what they have alleged to be ‘negligence’ in allegedly failing to take reasonable action to protect them from serious brain injuries.

The move to do so created a significant uproar amongst the rugby league fraternity – not least current and past players – as has the introduction of the new tackle height.

For Sculthorpe, who made 325 appearances for Warrington Wolves and St Helens over a 14-year career, he understands the need to improve safety within the sport, but believes that the new tackle law could actually increase the risk of concussion.

“I do understand the new direction and I get the whole head contact thing, and why we have to make changes with regards to layer welfare, but also Rugby Football League and Super League liability against future claims,” Sculthorpe told League Express.

“However, I don’t agree that the current changes in tackle height will stop concussions, and they could maybe cause more!

“I see more concussions in games coming from friendly fire (defenders clashing heads), or players now going too low wiht their heads down catching hips and knees.

“I don’t believe current players intentionally make head contact or engage in foul play, the game has moved on from those days.

“However, it’s a physical combat sport, and I don’t think we can lose what is great about our game and continue to look for reasons to ban players with the Match Reivew Panel.

“Also, we have introduced new rules over the past few years to increase the speed of the game, and ball-in-play time, the last thing we want now is continuous whistles and penalties. I’m all for looking after players and their life after playing, however, we have to find a balance.”

So would Sculthorpe have struggled to change to the new rule after being brought up on something quite differently?

“No, I wouldn’t have struggled to adapt to new changes, I think I was always quite a disciplined player and never tackled high!

“With that in mind, it wouldn’t have really made much different to my techniques!”

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