Opinion: Shoulder ban hurting league?
Wed, 21 Nov 2012 11:07a.m.
By Sam Ackerman
Opinion by Sam Ackerman
If you're a league fan, you love the shoulder charge. It's an instrumental part of the game's folklore, it turns players into legends and puts bums on seats.
Sonny Bill Williams may be known as an international code hopper these days but it was his lethal shoulder than first put him on his trajectory to stardom.
David Kidwell had a sensational career but is best known for letting his shoulder do the talking and put down big Willie Mason at Mt Smart.
The list of memorable moments from the spectacular looking tackle goes on and on.
The decision from the NRL's independent commission to recommend outlawing shoulder charges across all competitions has been met with plenty of fire and brimstone from fans, commentators, former and current players alike.
The bottom line is officials couldn't ignore the medical advice. All 16 NRL doctors condemned the practice and called for it to be rubbed out of the game.
It's been deemed an unacceptable injury risk, and in a time where concussion among athletes is under the spotlight, this can be looked at as enlightened step.
But when they talk about unacceptable risk, they're also talking about the legal aspect.
It's only a matter of time before someone gets badly hurt in a mistimed shoulder charge and it ends up in the courts.
Take what happened with Jarrod McCracken when he took legal action for a spear tackle.
If a shoulder charge that caused serious injury went before a judge or jury, the medical evidence that the ARLC would have overlooked would have left them wide open for punishment.
That's seen as the common sense view. But every sport comes with its risks.
Can you imagine Formula One drivers being given a speed limit because there's fear someone could get hurt in a crash at the current speeds?
Or cliff divers being told the platforms had to be lowered? X-Games athletes told to make their tricks less death-defying?
Every sport comes with its risks. Anyone entering into professional rugby league does so willingly and with the knowledge that an accidental collision or misjudged tackle could happen.
The findings of the report in shoulder charges showed they made up 0.05 per cent of tackles made in this years NRL – 17 per cent of which made contact with the head. That's not an epidemic.
But player safety deserves to be high on the agenda. Even if they don't want protection, is it up to officials to make things as safe as possible?
The move's already been banned in all New Zealand domestic competitions, and NZRL officials are glowing in their praise of the positive impact it's had on player well-being.
Rugby League will survive without the shoulder charge. But I don't mind saying, I'll miss that 0.05% of the game.
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21/11/2012 4:35:36 p.m.
you are missing something, brain trauma, concussion, whiplash to name a few.
21/11/2012 1:42:11 p.m.
Pathetic, and symptomatic of a pathetic world.
21/11/2012 1:15:51 p.m.
In this day and age we are used to pseudo intellectual sooks and PC morons making decisions in government, schools councils etc that are to the detriment of society. But until now there was still a sacred place for real men to play a great game free from the interference of this type of rubbish. This decision is pathetic and those that made it should immediately reverse the decision, aplogise and resign if they have integrity or respect for the game what so ever. Apprently an average increase in player size of 4 kilograms is the reason for this blatent bastarisation of the game, does that mean another 4kg and they will have to play touch? maybe they could all go on a diet and introduce the head high tackle. Give us a break! Or maybe I'm missing something, perhaps we should all just play video games or badmington and talk about our self esteem in an approved safe environment wearing knee pads and ear warmers.
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