Consistency needed with head-high contact
The 2012 NRL season has endured its fair share of refereeing clangers. I have followed the game for 35 years and this year I have had my eyes opened to rules I never knew existed or rules that have new interpretations.
Perhaps the current law book should be titled 51 Shades of Grey. No-one seems to know what’s going on and there is definitely no consistency.
One rule that has remained consistent however is that there shall be no contact with an opponent’s head. None at all.
Without hesitation, I can recall a number of instances this season where a player has, be it recklessly or intentionally, made contact with a player’s head.
It occurs in every game and the consequences or penalties are difficult to determine during the game and at the post match review committee. Long term, we still don’t know what a lot of the consequences are.
This past weekend, Sam Burgess flattened a young Newcastle player on debut in a collision that resulted in the player forced to leave the field heavily concussed and sporting a broken nose.
Ben Ross was taken out by a hit from Jared Waerea- Hargreaves. Replays showed contact was made from shoulder to Ross’ chin. Ross also took no further part in the game.
Wharea-Hargreaves was placed on report and is to defend his case. Meanwhile, Burgess has no case to answer.
There have been several incidents involving high profile players this year, which have either resulted in significant suspensions or no sanctions at all.
The impact and ferocity of the tackles today, with direct impact to the head, will potentially lead to serious consequences. One only has to cast their minds back to what happened to Adam Ritson when he was victim of direct contact with head.
There are arguments that football is a tough game and is a contact sport and I absolutely agree. But, that being the case, the head needs to be protected at all costs. There should be no tolerable excuse for contact to the head be it intentional, reckless, a shoulder charge gone wrong, the hand bouncing up from the ball, etc.
The NRL need to adopt and implement a consistent approach to stamp this out. When players are on notice that the ramifications of contacting with the head are harsh, they will adopt and change their ways.
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