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WE MUST NEVER SURRENDER THE 'ESSENCE' OF OUR GAME!
- By Jeff Wall.
I understand why the NRL had to move on punching and fighting - even if it was yet another reactionary step.
To do otherwise would simply not have been worth the media, special interest and vested interest campaign that would have escalated.
But I worry increasingly that we are in real danger of surrendering - by edit from the NRL - the very "essence" of the greatest game of all.
Rugby league, is, and always has been the pre-eminent body contact sport.
At its very heart is the tackle.
It is not a game of touch - and must never be a game of touch.
The games administrators, and the referees and other officials who implement their decisions, and especially the rule interpretation variations they issue, have an enormous challenge and responsibility.
While they must follow the rules, surely the greatest "rule" of all is that referees need to apply a healthy dose of common sense?
Over the last weekend, I saw several interpretations of the shoulder charge rule that just defy comprehension.
At least one player was put on report for a shoulder charge which involved contact with the hip area of an opponent.
For more than a century that would have been regarded as an effective tackle.
Common sense prevailed today when the match review committee did not charge any player from the weekends round (albiet on 3 matches).
Referees and video referees need to apply more common sense when it comes to putting players on report,
And that applies especially in regard to the banning of the shoulder charge.
They ought to be distinguish between a dangerous shoulder charge, and one that really amounts to no much more than an effective tackle.
Ours is am tough game. It was designed to be at the very beginning when league was formed after a breakaway from union over a century ago.
The more forensic examination of tackles resulting from the video and other technology now in use must be looked at in a more balanced and common sense way.
And speaking about using the technology in a more common sense way, surely another "essence" of our game that distinguishes it from union is scoring tries!
The disallowing of tries by the forensic examination of play leading up to the try being scored has to be a balancing act......and the attacking team is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
That rule is simply not being implemented with common sense let along application of a benefit of the doubt rule especially when judging claims of "obstruction".
Our game thrives on tough tackling and scoring tries.
Unless those in authority get the balance right, and apply common sense, the very "essence" of our game will be at risk!