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‘We want them to stay’: NRL defends decision to ban tackling in junior rugby league

The NRL has defended its decision to delay tackling in Queensland’s junior rugby league.

Under-7s will not be allowed to tackle for the first 10 rounds of the year before transitioning into full contact at the end of the season.

The rule will be extended after it was trialled in Under-6s and made both players and parents more confident to participate.

A Tackle Safe Program will be implemented for the Under-7s to teach them the correct techniques to ease into the traditional full-contact sport.

NRL Head of Football, Participation, Pathways & Development Luke Ellis tells Ben Fordham the change could attract families who are choosing Oztag and Touch over rugby league.

“We understand that tackling… is a barrier to entry to participants.

“The strategy is about getting more people into the game… and have a slower introduction of tackling across a period of time.

“We want them to stay… across all sports participants are dropping out of the game and research is suggesting that an overly competitive environment is causing that.”

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But Rugby League commentator Joel Caine tells Ben Fordham the new rule is unnecessary.

“The thousands of games I’ve seen, I honestly can’t recall an injury.

“It is the most cuddly type of game, the Under-6s and Under-7s… it’s just one big cuddly bearathon.”

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Image: Getty/han3617