South Sydney Prop Sam Burgess, was put on report for a sickening high shot on Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce, which occurred in the 57th minute of the season opener on Friday.
Although labeled by the commentators as not being a shoulder charge, it was an example of my prediction that players would naturally and instinctively use the shoulder charge as a form of roughing up an opposing team’s player.
As I stated in my article, “(w)ith one of the most appealing aspects lost to the game, its absence could produce more concerns. With players clearly not yet adjusted to the rule change, I believe it will create confusion in defence.”
“Players like Rose, Ben Te’o, Greg Inglis, Jarryd Hayne, Fui Fui Moi Moi will find its transition hard to grasp. I honestly believe when in defence, these players instinctively decide to shoulder charge.”
“Unfortunately a re-think will now occur, thought will turn to the next logical solution of a tackle, but the position a player is in will aid a swinging arm across the chops.”
Here is the shot laid out by Burgess on Pearce. You be the judge.
While it’s definitely not your typical execution of a shoulder charge, the camera angles provided show a different story.
In the video, Sam Burgess clearly comes rushing out of the line knowing Pearce is looking to fulfil a set play.
In the split second decision he has made to rush up out of the line, no attempt to tackle him has been shown until the last second in-which he raises his left arm/forearm – thus the unfortunate re-think has occurred.
Upon contact, the point of his shoulder has hit him very high and the swinging arm has followed, albeit the head had already been struck with the initial contact of the shoulder, thus leaving Pearce dazed and confused.
This sickening shot could see Sam Burgess sidelined as any contact with the head in recent seasons has been deemed not acceptable by the judiciary.
It was the way in which the shot occurred that has signified to me the sort of season us rugby league fans will have to endure due to the absence of the shoulder charge.
I can only imagine more examples of this to come as the season progresses and unfortunately teams will be effected during some of the most testing times.
Ensuring the message is drilled into these players that the shoulder charge is banned is vital to ensuring the best 17 players are kept on the park.
So why was it banned?
The Australian Rugby League Commission had accepted a recommendation to outlaw the shoulder charge from all competitions in 2013.
“The Commission has reviewed a detailed report into the shoulder charge and accepted a management recommendation that the increased size of athletes was creating a situation where the shoulder charge could, if maintained, lead to an unacceptable injury.”
The review demonstrated that:
- shoulder charges made up 0.05% of the 142,355 tackles made in 2012
- less than 4% of these resulted in injury to the attacking player and less than 1% to the defensive player
- 17% resulted in contact with the head of the attacking player
- players in the Telstra Premiership have grown over the decade from 2002 to 2012 to be on average 4kg heavier, 1.2cm taller and by measure of a superior Body Mass Index, stronger and more powerful
- that the average G-force of the shoulder charge (measured from accelerometer data taken from GPS tracking) was 76% greater than a conventional head-on tackle (10.682 compared to 6.056).
Should it come back already?
According to the experts, any shoulder charge incidents that lead to concussions could potentially create cases for players to exploit the option of suing, so most likely not.
How many of these shoulder charges will result in serious injury that could lead to potential law suits?
I don’t believe the Australian rugby league is looking to find out.
Do most NRL fans want it’s re-inclusion and a more stricter penalty applied if the shoulder charge is not used for the purpose it is meant to serve, thus resulting in a high shot?
What doesn’t the shoulder charge offer?
Here’s to hoping a great season of rugby league eventuates. This will not be the last time we hear about the shoulder charge.