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Shoulder charge under scrutiny

The Australian Rugby League Commission has today advised clubs that there will be increased penalties for any ‘dangerous contact’ to the head or neck from shoulder charges in the remaining weeks of the season.

At its meeting in Sydney this week the Commission determined that, pending a complete review of the ‘shoulder-charge’ rule, it was appropriate to send a strong message regarding the protection of players.

The Commission has already initiated the ‘shoulder charge’ review which involves detailed analysis of injury data, consultation with the RLPA, doctors, coaches and international Rugby League bodies and which will be tabled to the Commission later this year.

As an interim measure, the Commission has sent a clear signal about ‘dangerous contact’, informing clubs that a directive will be issued to both the Match Review Committee and the NRL Judiciary panel to set aside precedents and to send a clear deterrent in regard to ‘dangerous contact’ involving shoulder charges.

Any ‘shoulder charge’ which results in dangerous contact will be referred directly to the Judiciary Panel without grading.

“While the Commission does not involve itself in day to day operational issues we believe it is important to send a message across the whole of the game in relation to the importance we place on player safety,” ARL Commission Chairman, Mr John Grant, said.

“The game’s Executive has initiated a thorough process that involves multiple stakeholders in reviewing the shoulder charge and we recognise that this is a necessary part of any decision making process.

“What we are making clear in the interim is that the current rules are to be adhered to in a manner that discourages any player from taking unacceptable risks with the welfare of an opponent.

“Rugby League is incredibly skilful and incredibly tough and the rules are there to protect the players within that environment.”

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