Rugby League Concussion Debate: Kick-Off Rules Stand Firm

Rugby League Unlikely to Change Kick-Off Rules Despite Concussion Concerns

In the ongoing debate surrounding the safety of rugby league, recent data suggests that kick-offs do not contribute significantly to the number of concussions in the sport. This revelation has led the governing body, the RFL, to conclude that major changes to the kick-off format are unlikely to be implemented.

The discussion around the validity of kick-offs in the sport has intensified, particularly in the NRL, following an incident where Moses Suli suffered a concussion after colliding with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves during a kick-off. This incident prompted outcry from former players, including England forward James Graham.

However, according to senior RFL figure Robert Hicks, the governing body’s study of the most recent 200 concussions in Super League has shown that only 3% of concussions are directly caused by kick-offs. The majority of concussions, he states, are attributed to tackles during the game.

“If that is only account for 3 per cent of concussions, and the line tackle is the one that creates the most concussions, we’re working on that area.”

  • Robert Hicks, Senior RFL Figure

Hicks acknowledged the high incidence rate of concussions during kick-offs, but emphasized that the relatively low number of kick-offs in a game means they do not account for a significant proportion of overall concussions. While a recent trial of modified laws, including moving the kick-off to the 40-metre line to reduce the speed of collision, has not been carried forward as a recommended change, Hicks insisted that the governing body remains open to further discussions and data-driven decisions. He reiterated the need to balance the “gladiatorial part” of the sport with player safety considerations.

The RFL’s stance on maintaining the current kick-off format in rugby league, despite concerns over concussions, reflects their data-driven approach to addressing player safety. The governing body’s focus remains on addressing the more prevalent causes of concussions, such as tackles, as they continue to prioritize the well-being of players without compromising the essence of the game.

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