The NRL’s TackleReady program is set for launch, in what is the second year of a full roll out to junior rugby league clubs throughout Queensland.
Created with the goal of making confident and competent rugby league players, the TackleReady program was first introduced in 2019 and 2020, before being implemented in full across the state last year.
And, as kids prepare to once again learn the fundamentals of how to tackle and how to be tackled, the success of the program is evident, with registration numbers up for 2022.
Registrations for five-year-olds – playing in the under 6s – are up just over 13 per cent on this time last year, while the under 6s and under 7s numbers are up nearly eight per cent combined.
James Hinchey, the NRL’s general manager of game development and education, said the rise in numbers showed the program was not only appealing to children, but to parents as well.
“It really is just about making sure the game is giving kids the best possible experience and introducing the tackle aspect of the sport,” Hinchey said.
“It gives them confidence and competence, not just going about tackling but also in being tackled.
“Families are starting to understand what we’re trying to do… we’re trying to get kids and their mums and dads comfortable with our sport.
“It’s about making sure they get a really good experience but also shows mum and dad we’re serious about making sure the kids are equipped to play the game really well.
“The real key thing is allowing kids to be kids. It’s about being really patient with kids and giving them the chance to be comfortable with tackling.
“If we can give them that confidence, they’ll enjoy the sport a lot more.”
The TackleReady program – which is part of the NRL’s Player Development Framework - runs over two years, starting with the game's youngest participants at five and six years of age.
The children play tag rugby league in their first year, learning the basics of passing, catching and running, before moving into the under 7s in their second year, where they continue to play League Tag with the addition of the six-session TackleReady program run by qualified NRL staff.
It teaches all the fundamental movement skills required for both making a tackle and being tackled.
Once the TackleReady program is completed, the under 7s will then get the opportunity to play tackle games to end their second season.
This year’s program will be delivered to 205 junior rugby league clubs and over 385 under 7s teams in Queensland.
RISE national head coach, Neil Henry, also helped devise the program with Hinchey’s team and said the way the program was staged helped kids build their confidence over time – not just in tackling, but all rugby league skills.
“The whole purpose of it was to allow our young players or players new to the game to learn correct and safe techniques around tackling and being tackled,” Henry said.
“It’s a progressive, staged introduction to contact. It’s simple and it’s fun and there’s some key learning areas for our young kids.
“The aim is to have consistency around how it’s taught, so it’s about coach education as well.
“Our biggest fear with our smallest kids in participating in rugby league is being able to tackle and being tackled. Once you practice that at training, you alleviate that fear and you get a better product.”
Registrations are still open for season 2022. To sign up with your local community rugby league club, visit www.playrugbyleague.com.au.