A shoulder-charge-free footy season?

A shoulder-charge-free footy season? image

The footy season is in full swing. And I’m salivating at the possibilities.

2012 finished on a high. Here is my top five:

• Swans win a smoker of a Grand Final

• Storm win a legitimate premiership

• South Sydney make the semi-finals

• St George avoid the wooden spoon

• Sydney FC sack another coach

2013 can only get higher. Here are my top five predictions:

• Richmond Tigers win their first flag in 33 years

• St George avoid the wooden spoon

• Sydney FC sack another coach

• Israel Folau becomes a Wallaby

• Shoulder-charge-free footy is here to stay

Last year I wrote a blog on how I was being shoulder charged into hating the game I love (view here). Later that year the brutality was banned. I am not claiming responsibility for that surrender to sanity. It was as common sense as a cyclist wearing a helmet. But not for everybody.

Which brings me to a riddle.

Question: What kinds of people still believe in the shoulder charge?

Answer: People whose brains have been shaken senseless by too many shoulder charges.

Have you not noticed that the only people who keep speaking for the shoulder charge are a minority of those who play or have played the game? And only a small minority of them.

Yes, it’s 2013 and Rugby League has finally cleaned up one of the most disgraceful on-field aspects of its game. People in the code with some brains have finally made a no-brainer of a decision to protect the brains of people who don’t seem to care about their brains or the brains of others.

Of course, some members of the League community have turned this common sense decision into a controversy. All sorts of nonsense continues to be spruiked in what now seems to have turned into the two hour long Tom Waterhouse.com info-commercial for gambling that used to be called Friday Night Football.

Despite all the science pointing to the long term brain injuries that are being sustained by concussions and repeat concussions, some influential people in the sport still wants people to bash into other people like demolition derby cars instead of tackling an opponent with your arms. Sigh. Will they ever get it? They are looking more like dinosaurs everyday.

The question now is how to wipe the shoulder charge out of the game altogether. It is one thing to make it illegal but if the guilty party keeps getting penalised with a week or two’s punishment there will always be those who are willing to walk the line and take the risk. It’s time to take some firm action and make it clear to offenders that there is no place for them in the game at all.

A premeditated king hit is no longer tolerated. Unlike a closed fist or a forearm (which can be lethal depending on the point of contact) a shoulder is also a blunt instrument but it can have the force of a 110 kg body behind it travelling at 10 to 15 km an hour running into an opponents head travelling at 10 to 15 km an hour. That is a potentially lethal high speed impact.

It’s almost obscene to defend this kind of brutality. A few sentences of half a season or more should wipe the action out of the game come September.

The same could be said of the spear tackle. What, I hear that a Bulldog may get 5 weeks with an early plea and seven if he challenges the charge? He could have broken another man’s neck and put him in a wheelchair for life. A season on the sideline for these acts of stupidity will soon wipe the spear tackle out of the game.

I love my footy. I love it hard, fast, fair and free from thugs.

And I love it free from the insidious gambling-creep that threatens to consume it.

Administrators must rise above the mindless moneyed men who are destroying the lives of a future generation and tackle this off-field cancer that is crippling the sport and people’s lives.

But that’s a discussion for another day.

For now let’s sit back and watch the season unfold without a legal shoulder charge as we watch:

• Russell’s rabbits get riggamortus

• Richmond win the flag

• Reds, not Brumbies, win the Super Rugby

• Richie McCaw run amok in the Four Nations

• Robbie Deans replaced as coach after Lions tour

Has anyone found a gambling-free view? Please let me know.



Feature photo: paddynapper

David Mansfield is the director of the Archbishop of Sydney's Anglican Aid.

Comments (5)

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  • Stephen Davis
    April 4, 13 - 6:49pm
    Excellent article David, you are dead right on all points you have raised, the thing that makes me laugh is the "Gamble responsibly" quip at the end of these ads, is there any such thing? These spear tackles are terrible, although I did hear that during a tackle, it all depends on the way you grab someone, apparently if you grab their legs in a certain way and they come off the ground, then there is a good chance that despite the intentions of the tackler, the person being tackled is going to end up in a potential spear tackle. Now I do stand to be corrected on this because I did hear it second hand but in accord with your article I would love to see players who do them severely punished! Now, what NRL team do you go for Dave?
  • David Mansfield
    April 6, 13 - 10:14pm
    Hi Stephen,

    I am a Dragons tragic.
  • Philip Coller
    April 7, 13 - 7:29pm
    One problem with your article David, Russell's rabbits will return glory to Redfern!
  • David Mansfield
    April 8, 13 - 6:59am
    You are a true believer Phil and like me you have learnt to live with disappointment. But you Russell, Redfern and the Rabbits will rue what might have been.
  • Stephen Davis
    April 8, 13 - 8:15am
    Well David, a Dragons "tragic" eh, well, if they play the rest of the season like they have played in their last two games then you might have to drop the "tragic" bit! To Phil, as a Rabbits supporter, I am hoping that as well mate, but they need to keep improving their game though, that Penrith match, gee they made some dumb mistakes in that one!