Australian journalist suggests radical rule changes to combat concussion

Australian Rugby League writer Buzz Rothfield believes the sport must wake up to the threat posed by concerns surrounding concussion.

And he has suggested a series of rule changes that he believes would reduce players’ vulnerability to suffering head injuries.

Writing in The Australian Daily Telegraph, Rothfield said: “Will rugby league be preparing for a State of Origin decider in 20 years’ time?

“Or will the game be dead by then, killed off by the very real threat of concussion litigation?

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“Even the most hardened rugby league types are finally conceding something needs to be done for the toughest body contact sport in the world to survive for another 100-odd years.”

Rothfield’s suggestions for helping the game survive the threat of concussion injury are:

  • The introduction of 25-metre restarts instead of kick-offs
  • Reduction of teams to 12-a-side to increase fatigue and soften collisions
  • Tackles only permitted below the armpits
  • Limit of two defenders per tackle
  • Reduction of the ten-metre rule to seven metres
  • Six permitted interchanges instead of eight

He added: “Like all of the above options, it’s worth a debate.

“In 2039 we want to be gearing up for another Origin decider, not mourning the death of the greatest game of all.

“Don’t laugh. The concussion threat is that serious. And, fortunately, the NRL is treating it as such.”

England international John Bateman has dismissed Rothfield’s suggestions: