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RFL changes tackle rules after controversial Brown red card

The RFL has announced it will be amending its tackle laws after Nu Brown’s controversial red card in Hull FC’s match with Warrington Wolves.

Brown was sent off after a head clash with Wolves’ Ben Currie due to the rule that any head-to-head contact is immediately a “high level of force or danger”.

This led to outcries from fans and players as the incident was deemed by most to be accidental and in the flow of the tackle.

Therefore, the RFL has updated its rules, with the Match Review Panel concluding that the tackle did not warrant a charge and so showed a “lack of clarity” in the framework.

The section of the Framework relating to head-on-head contact will now be amended, “emphasising that it applies only to initial contact”.

Once contact is made, “officials are able to use their knowledge and game-understanding to mitigate the sanction, to reflect the level of culpability of the tackler”.

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Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin was fuming with the decision to award a red card for Hull FC’s Nu Brown after he made contact with the head of Warrington’s Ben Currie

The new update to the rules will be presented to Super League coaches at a pre-arranged meeting on Wednesday, and to playing representatives of all 12 Super League clubs at a separate meeting later in the day.

Robert Hicks, the RFL’s director of operations and legal, said: “We are in the very early stages of the season at all levels having introduced significant changes as recommended by the sport’s Brain Health Sub-Committee, and in that regard, we thank the players and coaches for their response.

“Comparing Round Two of the Betfred Super League to the opening round, there has been a significant reduction in the number of charges, reflecting a significant change in player behaviour – with a tiny proportion of over 3,000 tackle events leading to charges for head contact. It has been a similar story through the early rounds of the Betfred Challenge Cup and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup.

“However we have acknowledged throughout this process that it would be challenging for all, and that as a governing body, we need to be flexible, and sympathetic to those at the sharp end.

“The dismissal of Nu Brown at Warrington on Friday night was an uncomfortable moment for the sport, and it has highlighted a lack of clarity in the wording of the framework as followed by match officials on the night.

“We recognise this will be of little consolation to the player or his club – and we thank them for their measured response.

“Head-to-head contact was an area highlighted as especially important by the Brain Health Sub-Committee, given the impact on two players, so it will remain a focus of the framework, and will continue to be sanctioned – specific to initial contact.

“The meetings with head coaches and senior players this week are another opportunity to update and consult, given the importance of communication through this process.

“Next weekend is a significant one for the Community Game, marking the start of the National Conference League and a number of other competitions, meaning further adaptation for another group of players, coaches and match officials.

“As at the professional level, these changes have been introduced following recommendations from the Brain Health Sub-Committee given developments in medical and scientific knowledge, and with a focus on player welfare – and again as in the professional game, we are grateful to clubs, coaches, players and match officials for their support.”

Sky News
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