MAJOR changes to the tackle height in rugby league will be adopted from next year, the Rugby Football League has confirmed.

Following a trial in four rounds of academy fixtures during 2023, the legal tackle height will be lowered to below the armpit next year at all levels below the professional game before being rolled out across the entire game in 2025.

The rule is the highlight of a sweeping list of approved recommendations designed at making the game safer, including a mandatory four-week off-season for every player and limits on the number of minutes played over a 12-month period.

“In stressing the significance of these recommendations which have now been ratified by the RFL’s independent Board of Directors, we acknowledge the challenges they will pose for those at all levels of the sport,” RFL chief executive Tony Sutton said.

“We believe they are essential, as Rugby League must respond to developments in medical and scientific knowledge to prioritise the safety of those that play; and also that they offer exciting opportunities to increase the appeal and accessibility of Rugby League, especially at junior and community levels.

“Rugby League will remain a tough, gladiatorial and character-building team sport. But we believe the mandating of tag/touch at the introductory levels - initially Under-6s rising to Under-8s from 2026 – and the reduction in the legal tackle height at all levels from 2025 will place a new emphasis on skill and attacking play, further increasing the appeal of Rugby League both to parents, and to open-age community players. 

“On behalf of the RFL, and the sport as a whole, I thank all who have been involved in developing these recommendations, especially Professor Ben Jones and his team at Leeds Beckett University, and my colleagues on the Brain Health Committee.

“We have recognised throughout this process the importance of communication in making such fundamental changes.

“Stakeholders have been kept informed throughout of the direction of travel, and a number of recent meetings have been held, including with professional coaches and the Community Board.

“Those discussions and explanations will continue throughout the winter ahead of the start of the 2024 season. My plea to all involved in the sport would be to recognise the fundamental importance of our match officials in introducing these changes.

“That was reinforced by the challenges faced by the group who were involved in the Academy Laws Trials last summer, to which they responded admirably. Next year more than ever, they will all need and deserve our support.”