Major professional sports leagues have placed a higher priority on player safety in recent years. The NHL, NFL and MLB all have concussion protocols with hockey requiring any player sustaining head injuries to be evaluated by the team doctor in a “quiet room.” Not to be outdone, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) Commission announced that they would be banning “shoulder charges” for all competitions in 2013.
Section 11, Law 2 of the ARL Rules (Tackle and Play the Ball) states that:
“A defender who runs at a ball carrier and without attempting to tackle, grab or hold the ball-carrier using arms or hand, charges to make direct physical contact with the shoulder or with the upper arm (tucked into the side) is guilty of misconduct (dangerous collision).”
As you might expect, this decision has divided rugby fans. The resulting debate is not unlike a discussion about the value of fighting in hockey. Do players of limited skill contribute to the entertainment value of the game?
A fan by the name of Adrian showed support for the decision writing, “If a player is so unskilled as to NOT BE ABLE TO tackle properly and so lacking in concern for other professionals ability to have a longer career, all in the name of being “spectacular”, then they should NOT be playing at all! Its a game of collision but not one of maming the opposition.”
The Knight’s coach Wayne Bennett has condemned the decision arguing instead for stiffer penalties. Bennett said, “I was consulted and I was in favour of maintaining it. It’s a point of difference for us. It can be an exciting tackle and it can excite the fans. The dangerous throws have been eliminated from the game because the penalties are so severe that the players don’t use them. A shoulder charge could’ve been in the same category.”
So in tribute of the shoulder charge (1908-2012) ozfrags has posted a compilation of rugby league hits to YouTube.