The Rugby Football League (RFL) has banned the controversial shoulder charge from all domestic competitions with immediate effect.
The challenge had been outlawed in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) for this year and the RFL has followed suit on safety grounds, with the charge now deemed illegal from this weekend’s round of matches in Super League and Championship competitions.
The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) had announced the challenge was to be banned for Friday’s World Club Challenge clash between Leeds Rhinos and Melbourne Storm at Headingley and the RFL has acted swiftly to implement the same changes.
RFL Laws Committee Secretary Blake Solly said: “The RFL believes that player safety is of paramount importance and we are committed to ensuring that our players can compete in the safest possible environment.
“We understand that the shoulder charge is popular with many people in Rugby League, but we also have a duty to manage the welfare and safety of players involved in the game at all levels.
“We have contributed to the RLIF’s discussions about the shoulder charge and whilst we believed the challenge should not be banned, we consider that the RLIF Board have followed the correct process and allowed each member nation to provide a view on the law change.
“It is right that the RLIF should have ultimate control over issues such as this, and we remain committed to standardising the Laws of the Game across all nations and competitions.
“We had agreed with the RLIF the option to delay the implementation because we are in season, but the RFL Board has agreed that it is best to immediately implement the ban on the shoulder charge across all domestic competitions.
“We believe this decision will help ensure the future safety of our players whilst not adversely detracting from the on-field excitement of the sport.”
The challenge has already caused controversy in the early rounds of Super League XVIII with Catalans Dragons’ Julian Bousquet and Castleford Tiger’s Rangi Chase being hit with bans last week for carrying out the tackle.
Coaches and players have actively spoken to keep the challenge in the game but they will have to adhere to the new ruling in double-quick time for this weekend’s matches.