Super League Sees Drastic Drop in Dangerous Tackles: 2023 Data Analysis

Tackle Heights Dramatically Reduced in Super League

In the opening three months of the 2023 Super League season, there has been a significant decrease in dangerous tackles around the head and neck area, according to exclusive data obtained by Love Rugby League.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) introduced a range of law changes over the winter, aimed at reducing head-high contact in the sport. These modifications, which included stricter punishments for offending tackles, were met with initial backlash due to a spike in penalties and suspensions.

However, the data now shows a dramatic shift in player behavior. Since the RFL started collecting tackle height information in 2018, around 13% of all tackles were made at head or neck level. This year, that figure has plummeted to just 4.2%, equating to several hundred fewer dangerous tackles per season.

Furthermore, concussion rates per 1000 hours of play have also decreased, dropping from 18.2 last year to 15.63 so far in 2023. This positive trend is expected to continue as the sport implements further law changes, including lowering the legal limit for contact to below the armpit from next season.

“The shift in player behavior is also reflected in the stabilization of penalty counts per round, which had spiked to a record 90 in the opening fixtures. Recent weeks have seen this number decline to the 2022 average of 58 penalties per round across the six Super League matches.”

These figures demonstrate the significant impact the RFL’s rule changes have had in the early stages of the 2023 campaign, prioritizing player safety and reducing the concerning trend of head-high tackles in rugby league.

Interestingly, the number of Super League players wearing instrumented mouthguards has surged, with over 75% of athletes using the technology this year, up from 15% in 2022. These devices help identify players at risk of head injuries, allowing them to be immediately substituted.

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