NRL Shoulder Charge Rule Adjustment

4th February 2017

The definition of a shoulder charge has been changed for the 2017 Telstra Premiership to make it clearer and simpler for fans and players. As part of a change to the Judiciary and Match Review system, a player will be charged if:

  • The contact is forceful, and;
  • The player did not use, or attempt to use, his arms (including his hands) to tackle or otherwise take hold of the opposing player.

    NRL Head of Football Brian Canavan said the amendment clarified and simplified the definition of a shoulder charge. "This change will make it easier for everyone involved in the game to understand what does and does not constitute a shoulder charge," Mr Canavan said. "Clearly there were instances in 2016 when the Match Review Committee and the Judiciary had differing views of whether or not a shoulder charge had been used, and that made it difficult for players, Clubs and our supporters to understand the guidelines around the offence." The change to the definition of a shoulder charge was made following recommendation from the NRL Competition Committee, on advice from the Judiciary Chairman.

    "As a game, we are committed to outlawing the shoulder charge, and we believe these changes will make it easier for us to do so," Mr Canavan said. "We have undertaken extensive research into the risks of shoulder charges and we will not deviate from our desire to eradicate the practise from the game. "Should a player make forceful contact and in the process fail to use or attempt to use his arms to do so, he will be charged with a shoulder charge."