Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SBW returns, shoulder charge leaves.

So the Australian Rugby League Commission has decided to ban the shoulder charge after Brian Canavan’s extensive report and many recommendations from NRL doctors, including the highly respected Nathan Gibbs and John Orchard.

With all the crazy class-action and legal cases in the NFL, the ARLC has definitely had duty of care and legal responsibilities in mind even before the report was submitted. But it seems a very quick, knee-jerk, reactive decision made by commission, or a very pro-active decision for the future.

Why didn’t they try and reduce the interchange or have 12 week bans for contact with the head? All the players are in support of heavy suspensions if it is carried out wrong.

They’ve banned basically everything in the tackle. It’s become: run the ball up, get caressed by 2 defensemen, 1 around the hips, 1 around the torso, lie down.  

The NRL announced in its strategic plan to be the ‘most entertaining’ game in Australia. How on earth does banning the one thing, the ‘one’ thing, rugby league has over its football competitors go about achieving such a goal? The collision is the part of the game that makes it different from its competitors, it’s the exciting, exploding, edge of your seat play that makes you cringe, squirm, scream and cheer. Nothing can turn over momentum more than a big shoulder charge or tackle. Every single highlight reel for the past 10 years would have included numerous shoulder charges.

With the pressure the referees have been under in the last couple of years and the current restructure of the NRL referee’s system, the shoulder charge is only going to confuse the officials more. How will they consistently identify a ‘shoulder charge’? What will be the indicators? If Chris Sandow runs into James Tamou’s hip with his shoulder cocked, will he be suspended?

The most disappointing part of the shoulder charge being banned is, in the last 5 years that the shoulder charge has become so big, the man who carries it out the best, hasn’t been able to play rugby league. How disappointing that the year he returns to the NRL, they ban it. Sonny Bill Williams played a huge part in the establishment of the modern day shoulder charge. He was the best at it. There was nothing better than seeing the genetically-blessed Williams slam the shoulder into an opponent in slow motion replays or bass-assisted highlight reels. His former shoulder charges were sure to have been featured in 2013’s advertisements and previews.

The statistics provided from the report indicate, 5 out of every 10,000 tackles are shoulder charge attempts. From them five, 1 out of every 6 makes contact with the head. 2011 saw some bad shoulder charges and a couple of broken jaws, but injuries have been occurring since 1908. This is best part of the game! No one wants to see the game played with skirts on.

It will be interesting to see how the ‘most entertaining’ game of all entertains us without the shoulder charge. For God’s sake I hope they conduct a review.

And another thing that has pissed me off, why was the decision sent out at night via e-mail to the media? Where is John Grant to face the music? Probably sitting back having a beer at a post-game function with Prince Charles presenting a trophy while having his Maserati washed.