Proof NRL's crackdown lowered high tackles

·3-min read

The NRL's infamous Magic Round crackdown last year can be declared a success, with high tackles almost halved in 2022 and judiciary charges down a whopping 72 per cent.

This weekend marks the anniversary of the league's much-vaunted crackdown, which turned the game's showpiece round into a weekend of sin-bins and send-offs.

In three days of madness at Suncorp Stadium, 14 players were binned and three sent off across eight games before a record 75 players were charged with different offences in the next three weeks.

But data obtained by AAP shows the NRL has got the desired result for a crackdown driven by Peter V'landys' ARL Commission.

While an average of 2.7 penalties were blown per game for high tackles from Magic Round and on last year, that figure has dropped to 1.7 this season.

Likewise, the number of players charged with careless high tackles has gone from an average of 6.19 per round last year from Magic Round to the finals, to just 1.76 in 2022.

"It wasn't a shock-and-awe approach," the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley insisted.

"But there is no doubt what took place from the remainder of last year indicated to players and coaches that the tolerance of the game for high tackles that can result in injury and concussion is just not there.

"And you would have to say players have reacted and adapted to what is required now. And they are compliant to a much larger degree."

Backing Annesley's claims is the fact there now appears to be a drop in lower-grade high tackles where players creep up in tackles with relatively low force.

Grade-one charges for high tackles have dropped the most significantly from 4.7 per round last year to 0.77, while grade two and three charges have only dropped slightly.

Annesley insisted this was not down to a change in the way tackles are assessed, and that those handed grade-one charges last year were still copping the same level in 2022.

"They haven't changed (the way they grade) at all. I think the drop across the board is purely a result of players adjusting," Annesley said.

"I talk about target zones, and accidents will still happen from time to time.

"But we have a responsibility to keep pressure on that to make sure players are constantly thinking about their tackling technique, tackling style and their target area and the consequences of their actions.

"Because that is the only was we will see the numbers continue to drop."

Annesley was also confident the public was now more accepting of the stance, arguing most criticism was now when fans believed punishments were too harsh rather than too light.

"We probably didn't have that before Magic Round last year," Annesley said.

HOW THE NRL HAS ADAPTED TO THE CRACKDOWN

ROUNDS 10-25, 2021

High tackle penalties per game: 2.7

Grade-one high tackle charges per round: 4.7

Grade two: 1.07

Grade three: 0.42

ROUNDS 1-9, 2022

High tackle penalties per game: 1.7

Grade-one high tackle charges per round: 0.77

Grade two: 0.77

Grade three: 0.22

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