Concussion stand-down period to total 11 days in change to protocol

Australian rugby union will trial lowering the legal tackle height from below the shoulders to under the sternum in community matches.

Asked about the NRL mandating a change to tackle techniques or providing greater reward for legs tackles, Abdo said: “We’ve been discussing this and the commission is very focused on the data and what it is telling us.

“We’re continually looking at the data and seeing how it might be possible to adjust rules to minimise, wherever possible, injuries that are occurring through incorrect technique. But it needs to be stress tested and definitive, and those are part of the overall framework.”

The mandatory stand-down period will be for players diagnosed with a category-one concussion, which includes a loss of consciousness, ataxia or failing to protect themselves when falling.

Most sections of the game on Wednesday embraced the announcement, which means players risk missing high-profile fixtures such as State of Origin and finals.

The NRL will allow clubs to apply for an exemption to the 11-day period in exceptional circumstances when a player meets a specific set of criteria.

It includes when category-one symptoms are not prevalent, the player is asymptomatic the day following the concussion, the player has suffered fewer than five concussions in their career, has not been diagnosed with a brain injury within the previous three months and there is no history of prolonged recovery after a previous concussion.

Concussion researcher Professor Alan Pearce said the concussion stand-down rule was a significant step for the NRL, but more work still needed to be done to combat the CTE threat.

“On one hand, it’s a positive step they’re now acknowledging the seriousness of concussion as a brain injury,” he said. “I think that’s good.

“I still don’t think they’ve gone far enough because what they’re telling people is concussion can be mild, or not as serious. The message getting across is some concussions are more important than others.”

Manly coach Anthony Seibold, who worked alongside former England coach Eddie Jones in rugby union last year, was a supporter of the mandatory rest policy.

“I have experienced it before and would have no qualms with it,” Seibold said. “It’s about protecting the players and protecting their health, both in the short-term and long-term.”

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said “there is no greater priority than player safety” as news of a second class-action from former players was brought against the AFL on Wednesday.

Wests Tigers forward Shawn Blore, who this week will return from a concussion suffered in the opening round, hailed the mandatory rest period.


Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses and Penrith’s Spencer Leniu both played in finals matches last year a week after suffering a brain injury. They were cleared by an independent concussion specialist in the days after their concussion.

“We are our worst enemies sometimes,” Blore said. “You get hurt out there and you want to stay on. I think it is a stereotype that players need to break, probably too proud to admit we are hurt. When you are hurt, you are hurt and you just need to know when to call it quits.”

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