League officials are trying to disprove the beliefs that the game is dangerous.
League officials are trying to disprove the beliefs that the game is dangerous. LEIGH JENSEN

Safety myths are injurious

FRESH from leading the charge for limited interchange in Group 2 first grade matches, ARL development officer Mike Castle is saddling up for his next crusade.

Castle used university research and case studies as one of his tools to convince delegates to change long-held conventions and will call on similar data to confront myths about injury rates in junior sport.

For decades, assumptions have existed that soccer is the only safe sport for juniors and rival code administrators have been frustrated this view has gone unchallenged, particularly among the influential ranks of female school teachers.

There is growing determination in grassroots league that unsubstantiated claims must be addressed head-on with credible data.

“There are some interesting statistics regarding injury rates in junior rugby league and we must let parents know the steps rugby league is taking to ensure it remains the safest team sport on offer,” Castle said.

He pointed to a study by Westmead Children’s Hospital about incidence of injury in junior rugby league in Penrith and district league (Raferty, Parker, Stacey, Peat, Wang), which looked at almost 400 teams.

“Public perception of junior rugby league as a high injurious sport has been developed from media exposure of the elite,” the report found.

“We need to ensure parents understand what they see on television at NRL level is extremely different to junior league,” Castle said.

“The sport goes to more effort in ensuring the safety of its participants than other team sports.

“Firstly, there is the Safe Play code developed to emphasise safety and good conduct, while providing the best on-field environment possible by actively controlling undesirable actions.

“We have a nationally accredited safety program, where volunteers who wish to do as little as run water must meet minimum requirements and coaches are required to demonstrate they can teach correct, safe tackle and falling technique.”

The study is available at:


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