An opposition player is running toward you and wants to break through the other side. In essence, he is trying to score a try for his team. The basic fundamental of defence is to stop him.
In rugby league you use your shoulders. So contact with the head is going to happen.
Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: contact with the head will continue to happen long after we are all gone. This is the National Rugby League and this is rugby league played at the highest level.
These men are paid disgusting amounts of money to play the game they love. One of the reasons they get paid so well is because they could be hurt at anytime.
Canterbury Bulldogs backrower Frank Prichard’s hit on Panthers David Simmons on Saturday night was unlucky. Unlucky for Simmons because it was just a good damn hit.
Simmons crabbed across field, straightened a little and ran into Pritchard. The big Bulldog shouldn’t pay for such good technique because that’s what it was; good technique. Watch it again.
Of course it hit Simmons high. But you can’t outlaw that kind of tackle. It was an accident and accidents happen.
Simmons believes there should be a crackdown.
“The only way to stop it would be to get tough on any shot to the head, whether it’s your shoulder or your arm,” he said.
“Then blokes wouldn’t be so careless with their tackles. I think that would be the only way to stop this kind of thing happening. It doesn’t happen very often but it could have been heaps worse for me or the next bloke. I mean, the next bloke might get a broken jaw or he might get swelling on his brain.
“They probably need some basic standards because that’s the only thing that gets players cautious of it.”
You can’t have standards because every instance will be different. We must allow some understanding and leniency.
The NRL is awesome because its thuggish; because its played by monsters who want to hurt each other. It’s brutal, it’s fast, it’s raw and it’s ours.
Rugby league is successful because it is the toughest. The game can always look to clean its image up, but if you do not have allowances for accidents like this one, the game will go backwards. If rugby league loses its brutality, what is it?
There is a fine line between pleasure and pain. That fine line is what these professional footballers have to deal with every weekend.
Players know the risk they run playing this sport. Just ask Adam Ritson.