Protecting against Illness and Injury

Protecting against Illness and Injury

Preventing illness and reducing injuries during training and matches are key to support player well-being. Our research works with national governing bodies to quantify and reduce injuries in rugby. We are currently working with the Rugby Football League to quantify and reduce injuries in Super League, Academy and Women’s Super League.

The TaCKLE Project

Reducing head accelerations, head contact and injuries in Rugby League

CARR works closely with the Rugby Football League (RFL) to reduce head injuries in the sport.

Our research provides a unique understanding of the impact of collisions rugby league players experience.

Reducing head accelerations, head contact and injuries in Rugby League

CARR works closely with the Rugby Football League (RFL) to reduce head injuries in the sport.

Our research provides a unique understanding of the impact of collisions rugby league players experience.

Scoring a try in Rugby League
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We have:

  • Undertaken an intervention in the Super League Academy, to evaluate new laws to reduce head contact and concussion.
  • Undertaken an intervention in the Women’s Super League, working with coaches to identify ways to reduce head-to-head collisions during tackles and inform a new tackle technique.
  • Used instrumented mouthguards containing sensors to reveal how players in different positions are exposed to different collisions and head accelerations.
  • Applied computer vision techniques to identify head-to-head collisions and how different tackles cause head injuries.
  • Calculated the number of collisions and head acceleration events players experience in-game, to inform recommended match limits for players to reduce sub-concussive impact.
  • Conducted survey’s with players and coaches to understand perceptions of concussion, and how much contact load players need to meet the demands of the game, while trying to reduce concussions and head accelerations.
  • Identified new tackle height and head contact regulations to reduce contact to the head.
  • Conducted focus groups with stakeholders of the sport to review our research and recommended changes for the sport.

Changes to tackle height Laws in Community, Junior and Age Grade Rugby League in 2024

I am Gemma. I'm Jamie. I love playing and watching Rugby League, but it's really important that we keep the game safe for everyone in the Rugby League community. That's why new rules around tackling have been introduced.

These rules are about reducing the risk of concussion for you and your teammates, but they'll also stop poor tackles from interrupting the game and slowing down play. These new rules will ensure that the pace and the flow of the game keeps Rugby League the exciting game we all love.

So let's look at what the new rules are. All tackles must now make initial contact below the armpit and the tackles above the armpit will be penalized. Head contact has a six times higher risk of concussion than when the tackler hits the ball carrier's body.

This rule change will protect you and your teammates. So Let's look at some examples of good and bad tackles. So we can see there are no tackle rules in action.

[Examples of tackles]

Currently, There is one concussion every two games in professional rugby league, and this new rule will significantly reduce concussions. The most important thing to remember is that the new tackle laws won't change the excitement or the enjoyment of the game.

It's about the community of Rugby League coming together, using the latest research and making the game safer for everyone to enjoy. If you want any further information, just go to the website shown on screen now.

Our research has informed the following recommendations to the RFL to reduce head contact and concussion, and contact load for players.

  1. High tackles will now be recognised as being above the height of a player’s armpit. This is one of 44 law changes which will be introduced in the community, age-grade, and juniors’ game from 2024.
  2. Limit the number of matches for professional players to 15-30 per season, based on their age and playing positions, and the amount of contact players can do in training.
  3. Mandate instrumented mouthguards for the 2024 men’s and women’s Super League seasons, to ensure player head impacts and accelerations are monitored.

We want to make sure rugby league is a safe sport at all levels by reducing the amount of head contact in the game. We also want to make sure the new tackle laws don’t change the same excitement or enjoyment of the game for players and fans.

Our partners

our impact

Women's Super League

We are working with all stakeholders across Women’s Super League to reduce injuries and improve player well-being.

Covid-19 transmission in rugby league matches

Professor Ben Jones lead a team of researchers to assess the amount of in-match transmission of covid-19 during four Super League matches, analysing the interactions of players who later tested positive for the virus.

The team used video footage and GPS data to monitor player interactions and proximities and correlated the data with confirmed cases among the players. By analysing player interactions, the team were able to determine that in-match contact had little effect on transmission, while the social activity surrounding the sport, such as sharing cars and changing rooms, represented the greatest risk of transmission.

As the pandemic reaches a new phase, studies like this are informing and shaping the conversation around how to relaunch competitive sport responsibly and ethically.

Key Outputs


  • Tee, J., McLaren, S., Jones, B. (2020) Sports injury prevention is complex: We need to invest in better processes, not singular solutions. Sports Med 50(4): 689-702
  • Tee, J., Till, K., Jones, B. (2019) Incidence and characteristics of injury in under-19 academy level rugby league match play: A single season prospective cohort study. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(10):1181-1188
  • Tee, J.C., Bekker, S., Collins, R., Klingbiel, J., van Rooyen, I., van Wyk, D., Till, K., Jones, B. (2018) The efficacy of an iterative "sequence of prevention" approach to injury prevention by a multidisciplinary team in professional rugby union. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 21(9):899-904
  • Cummins, C., Welch, M., Inkster, B., Weaving, D., Jones, B., King, D., Murphy, A. (2019) Modelling the relationships between volume, intensity and injury-risk in professional rugby league players. Journal Science and Medicine in Sport, 22)6):653-660