NRL: Rough stuff inevitable for the tough men

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    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.

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    The Crowd Says (34)

    • Roar Guru

      March 7th 2012 @ 7:27am
      Damien said | March 7th 2012 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      Agree on all fronts except the your core arguement.

      Not sure if you chose your title but Pritchard didn’t knock Simmons out with his head. He knocked him out with a shoulder to the jaw hit.

      The huge Clinton, Ropati hit years ago was a head clash, this wasn’t.

      It was an accident no doubt but if its not looked after there will be many more ‘accidents’.

      Good hit, but unfortunately Pritchard’s shoulder connected him right in the jaw.

      Many moons ago when I played rugby one of cheapshots that used to occur was when a player entering the ruck, ‘accidently’ trampled on another players head.

      As long as your eyes were not directly looking at that player the saying goes you could plead innocence cause his head just happened to be laying right where you put your boot.

      Then when I played league it was the old ‘my hand started below the shoulder then got him in round the neck’. The shoulder to the head hit was even easier if your were taller than the player because most just said ‘that’s not my go and by the the way it would have been legal if the player was taller or wasn’t falling into the tackle’.

      The way it is much easier to police as in no one cares about intent, any contact with the head is illegal when it comes to the direct hit.

      • March 7th 2012 @ 8:52am
        Hanzo said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        “Many moons ago when I played rugby one of cheapshots that used to occur was when a player entering the ruck, ‘accidently’ trampled on another players head.

        As long as your eyes were not directly looking at that player the saying goes you could plead innocence cause his head just happened to be laying right where you put your boot.”

        This is completely off subject but these particular lines reminded me of some advice my uncle gave me years ago as a young aspiring rugby union player. He played over 100 games for Auckland and in fact is only second to the legendary Fitzpatrick for games by a hooker for Auckland and was an All Black trialist in the late 1970s. His advice…?

        “Boy, if you see something on the ground, Kick it. It might be the ball”

        • March 7th 2012 @ 10:53am
          Paul said | March 7th 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          I used that at a junior rugby carnival for the central west blue bulls and got hauled before the commitee a few years ago. lol

      • Roar Guru

        March 7th 2012 @ 11:11am
        Curtis Woodward said | March 7th 2012 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        No I didn’t choose the title. Mine was ‘Its Suppose To Be Rough’.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 9:38am
      Ian Whitchurch said | March 7th 2012 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      Simmons nailed it, and the author completely, totally and utterly missed the point.

      The NRL has a responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety to provide a safe working environment.

      If they dont, they are legally and perhaps personally liable.

      “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,” is a simple, clear and easy to interpret rule – is head, is automatic penalty, is automatic referral.

      At the same time, attempted head-butts – dropping your head into a tackle to milk a penalty – needs to be rubbed out as well, otherwise a Joel Selwood type will cheat by exploiting such a rule.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 10:07am
      Paul said | March 7th 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      I disagree, If a player is as big as pritchard and sees an oppurtunity to hammer a smaller player, he should not close his eyes and just jam his shoulder into him with out regard for making a legal tackle. If this continues the NRL will be forced into introducing Gridiron style Helmets, I dont like the idea myself but given how OH&S is applied to all other major companies employee welfare, i believe it is inevitable. Whilst we love the gladatorial nature of our game it is increasingly becoming apparent through the speed and aggresion of the game that a forward will prob at least suffer 2 concussions a year and when your competing for 26 weeks in a row every year for 5 or 6 years then clearly it needs to be addressed and saying that it was a good hit is immature and not understanding of the
      comp[lications of player welfare. If it is not acceptable in under 12’s then it should not be acceptable at any level, its sport not war.

      • Roar Guru

        March 7th 2012 @ 11:14am
        Curtis Woodward said | March 7th 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        We cheer when two guys have a bare knuckled fist fight which could possibly kill a man with a flush punch ? Timana Tahu gets a week for kneeing a guy in the head .. These are things kids shouldnt do and shouldnt see. Frank Pritchard’s tackle was a good accidental tackle. If there is such a thing.

        • March 7th 2012 @ 12:18pm
          Paul said | March 7th 2012 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Accidental = Careless ?
          No one cheers more than me when theres a dustup. The Manly Melb Fiasco was awesome last year but i think its only going to take one lawsuit. Imagine the ramifications if some died on the field from a punch to the head which is quite possible .

    • March 7th 2012 @ 10:50am
      Casey said | March 7th 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      Not a Frank Pritchard fan at all, but he really didn’t do anything wrong. He wasn’t aiming for the head, it was perfect technique with his shoulders, he’s just such a tall bloke that Simmons head was at the same level as his shoulder. Theres not much he can do about that. If Simmons (a winger) wants to run at a bloke like Pritchard who is so much bigger than him, thats a risk he takes. What are Pritchard (and other tall defenders) supposed to do, check out the height of the bloke running at them in the few seconds they have, and then make themselves shorter if its a smaller bloke? No

      • March 7th 2012 @ 10:56am
        Paul said | March 7th 2012 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        Casey Please, are you saying they cant bend thier Knees or back? They have to play by the rules or they get suspended. It is ridiculous to blame the victim for the crime.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 11:21am
      Gareth said | March 7th 2012 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      Honestly, I think the charge against Pritchard is fair enough. If a notoriously fat and lazy character puts a heavy shoulder on a much smaller bloke and knocks him out in the process, then yeah, it’s a careless tackle.

      It’s a bit like Petero Civoniceva when he starts getting tired toward the end of his spells – he’s a massive bloke who doesn’t lower his body enough when he’s buggered, and so his tackles start hitting high. Nobody is saying Petero shouldn’t be part of the game, but he should be penalised when his carelessness threatens to cause a serious injury.

      Just like how nobody is saying “get rid of the shoulder charge!” They’re saying “If you’re going to put a hit on, do it right.” It’s no different to when you see a player go in low for a tackle and clean himself up by putting his head in front of the ball runner’s legs. Nobody screams “ban low tackles!” they say “That’s unfortunate. That bloke got his technique all wrong.”

      People can scream the catchphrase “man’s sport” until they’re blue in the face, but the physicality and brutality of the game today far surpasses the era where hair pulls, eye-gouges, biting, scratching and various other “manly” pursuits were as commonplace as facial hair. Punishing players for lazy tackles that result in head injuries isn’t going to change that, it’ll just mean blokes like Frank Pritchard won’t have to feign injury when they want to spend a bit more time on the sidelines.

      • Roar Guru

        March 7th 2012 @ 11:25am
        Curtis Woodward said | March 7th 2012 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        That wasn’t a lazy tackle though @Gareth. It was technically sound.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 12:22pm
      oikee said | March 7th 2012 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      Nice try Curtis, but mate, your living in the stone age. Look mate, the one thing that is going to hurt sporting codes in future years is going to be litigation against brain damage and other injuries. The more it happens, the higher insurance your code is going to pay, probably at a point where it will be the lawyers and doctors who make the big money from the game, not the players.

      It is best for rugby league to stop it now, stamp the high tackles(which there was only one or two this week-end) out of the game.
      Besides, we want to keep our thugs, big ugly monsters looking good. I dont want to see cauliflower ears or broken noses, that is so old school.
      I want out front rowers to look as good as our glamour halves. 🙂

      I dont mind seeing the head get snapped back in a good tackle chest high, no head contact by the players shoulder, but when you have a player who will use his shoulder (which are rock hard muscles) and land it flush on a players head, your asking for trouble mate, begging for trouble.
      My wifes law firm would eat you alive.

      • March 7th 2012 @ 12:35pm
        Nathan of Perth said | March 7th 2012 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        Well put, okiee, agree with you there. Brain damage and head injury is the scourge of all sports and the more we understand about it and the more powerful and strong the blokes causing the impacts, the worse the problem will become. Everyone has a duty of care to protect the head. (Dere’s important stuff in dere, doancha know)

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