The decision by the Australian Rugby League Commission to ban the shoulder charge for next year has met with varied responses by many of its participants.
Some coaches and players have supported the move, essentially backed by medical advice to help reduce what the doctors fear, serious concusssions to the heads of players and perhaps the risk of on-going neurological issues.
Some coaches don’t like the shoulder charge ban rule.
Attacking the head of a player is outlawed in the game and several players in recent years have copped lengthy suspensions for dangerous tackles of this nature.
In my view, the shoulder charge was a difficult one for the two referees on the field and even the video referee to police. On a footy field, accidents do happen.
Players with the football at breakneck speed and changing direction switfly can in fact leave the defender in what I call ‘‘no man’s land.’’
If the attacker veers, swerves or steps suddenly and the defender is going to to make the tackle, either standing up or crouching there is a narrow margin for the point of contact.
Take for example if the attacker, stumbles or falls, and makes contact with the defender’s shoulder it could create the illusion the defender was making a shoulder charge.
In this hypothetical case in point he could find himself cited or even suspended for what is perceived as a shoulder charge.
I believe the use of a shoulder charge to attack the upper region, neck or head area of a player should be outlawed.
A defender standing firm, like a brickwall, and using the shoulder without raising his arm or elbow to make a tackle is in my view legal.
It’s the aim of a player to deliberately knockout a player or potentially seriously injure an opponent that must be outlawed.
Furthermore, one way to help reduce the number of high tackles is reduce the interchange.
We now have 10 interchanges used in a game, I think this should be slashed to six.
Under a six-man interchange rule, natural fatigue of the bigger sized players staying on the field for longer would open up space, players would miss more tackles and defenders rushing out of the defensive line to put on the ‘‘big hit’’ would have to change their thinking.
Fewer interchanges would create more holes in defensive patterns for elusive backs and clever dummyhalf runners to show their skill.
The one great attraction of rugby league is it has always been a game for players of different weights and heights and physiques.
In recent years the truly skilled halfbacks and five-eighths have been silenced at times by giant sized props and backrowers running at them on the edges of the field to burn up their energies in defence.
Then when the No.7s and No.6s came to attack, jaded by repeat sets of tackling, some of the playmakers couldn’t summon the flair or zip in attack in their game.
Also many coaches over the past decade then opted for a big sized backrower to play five-eighth, because it gave them an extra forward on the field.
What I call the ‘‘defacto’’ five-eighth, would also act as an extra running forward between the halfback and outside backs.
But the natural instinct of the stopgap five-eighth was to run and try and power over his opponent rather than deliver a sweet timed pass or smart kick, like the traditional style of five-eighth in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
We will have to wait and see until the 2013 season if the new the banning of the shoulder charge has the desired affect on the game.