The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has approved changes to the NRL Judiciary Code which will ensure harsher penalties for "Crusher" tackles.
As part of the changes, a separate "Crusher Tackle" charge has been added with immediate effect to the NRL Judiciary Code of Procedure.
The base penalties for Crusher Tackles will now be as follows:
- Grade One – 200 points
- Grade Two – 350 points
- Grade Three – 500 points
Charges considered to be more serious than Grade Three will be referred directly to the Judiciary for determination.
Previously, crusher tackles had been positioned under the Dangerous Contact – Head/Neck charge, with lower Grade One (100 points) and Grade Two (300 points) base penalties.
NRL Head of Football – Elite Competitions Graham Annesley said there had been 18 Dangerous Contact – Head/Neck charges for crusher-style tackles so far this season, with many Grade One offences not resulting in a suspension.
"We have seen a concerning increase in the Crusher-type tackles in recent years and the Commission has approved stronger deterrents to reverse this trend," Mr Annesley said.
"Crusher tackles are dangerous and carry with them the real potential for catastrophic consequences to the tackled player.
"Despite the charges and warnings previously imposed, we have not seen a decline in offences, so it has become clear that the penalties we had in place were not sufficient.
"While we never want to see players suspended and would much prefer the offences do not occur, we have a responsibility to strike the right balance between deterrence and punishment.
"This is a serious player safety issue and the changes are supported by the Rugby League Players Association."
RLPA Chief Executive Clint Newton said: "It is important that we continue to raise awareness across the playing group about the potential consequences of crusher style tackles.
"We are supportive of the proposal as we believe it will help in achieving this, however any change endorsed by the Commission should also be supported by further data analysis and education programs for players and coaching staff."
The changes will be in place for Round 15 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.