Knockouts expose another NRL flaw

Curtis Woodward Roar Guru

By Curtis Woodward, Curtis Woodward is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

33 Have your say

    Friday night saw another one of the National Rugby League’s ugly flaws rear its head again.

    This time it was Ben Te’o knocking Matt Groat clean out and staying on the field. All the while, Groat is scratched and the Wests Tigers are down a player for the remainder of the game.

    The Te’o hit and its legality is an argument for someone else at another time. You could say it was simply a perfect shoulder charge and unlucky for Groat. You could argue that contact was on the chin and deserves sanction.

    The point is that Groat didn’t play another second of the game and the Tigers were down a player. Te’o was placed on report and the Broncos continued with seventeen men.

    Who in their right mind believes that is fair?

    If Groat is taken from the field due to injury from an illegal play, the perpetrator must leave the field with the victim and cannot return unless the victim returns.

    Referees refuse to sin bin players in this day and age let alone send them from the field. This is the closest thing we can get to it. And it not only takes the pressure of the referees to do something about it, it puts the onus back on the player and whether he will continue to shoulder charge and risk time on the sidelines.

    Tigers coach Tim Sheens wants to go down a similar path.

    “He got him right on the point of the chin and he was out before he hit the ground” Sheens said at the post match press conference.

    “It will be argued there was shoulder contact to the head. I’m not going to predict if they will cite him – I imagine they will – and if he does miss games, it will be the team they play next week who get the advantage, not us tonight.

    “The issue today with referees, unlike the 70s and 80s, you get a really good replay of it, and if (video referee) Sean Hampstead didn’t think it was worth sending off, they normally tip them (the referees) off. “They put them on report, and I still think that’s the soft option, but they’re not to know the kid is out cold and can’t come back on.”

    Manly’s Brett Stewart suffered a similar fate in the 2007 Grand Final when he was knocked out by Melbourne’s Michael Crocker with a shot that would have been put on report today.

    Stewart failed to return, Crocker stayed on and Melbourne won the game easily.

    Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin also spoke at the post match presser.

    “I’d have to have a closer look at it, but it’s a shoulder charge. All of a sudden they’re illegal,” Griffin said.

    “Anyone who understands the game understands a shoulder charge is not intentional. If you go in with a swinging forearm and the guy clocks him on the chin, they deserve everything they get.

    “If he hadn’t stung the guy that well and he got up and played the ball, it would have been ‘play on’.

    “If we’re going to be like that, they’ll just have to ban shoulder charges and be like rugby union – but I don’t know if we want to be like rugby union.”

    The judiciary may find the tackle okay, but we wouldn’t know until the following week. Until then, if a player is knocked out and doesn’t return due to a suspected illegal tackle, both players leave the field.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • April 8th 2012 @ 7:35am
      eagleJack said | April 8th 2012 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Have to laugh at Griffin saying a shoulder charge is not intentional. The sole purpose of a shoulder charge is to put a player on his backside and hopefully hurt him in the process. Or at the very least make him nervous on his next hitup. When executed correctly it is great to watch. But in attempting this tackle you run the risk that you may make contact with the head. There is a very small margin for error.

      I disagree with your thoughts that the perpetrator should spend the same amount of time on the sidelines as the injured player during the game. An obvious scenario is that the perpetrator is that teams dominant and best player. The injured player is average and after being assessed by the medical staff is deemed fit enough to return. The coach opts to leave him on the sidelines as it means that the opposition are without their star player for the rest of the game.

      It should simply be that the perpetrator is either sent off or put on report. But a ready made replacement is available for the injured player so that they still have a full 17.

      • Roar Guru

        April 8th 2012 @ 12:15pm
        Curtis Woodward said | April 8th 2012 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        Perhaps the NRL could employ neutral doctors to make the decision ?

    • April 8th 2012 @ 7:57am
      Roarsome said | April 8th 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Said it before and I’ll say it again. If an incident is deemed worthy of being put on report, the offending player gets 5 in the bin or until points are scored. On a side note, players running straight and hard with no fend, angle or step in their run are going to get smashed.

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    • April 8th 2012 @ 9:14am
      Paul said | April 8th 2012 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Hi, its a shoulder charge for goodness sakes. We used to do those in primary school. It’s put on report so it hasn’t been ruled illegal yet. Isn’t and hasn’t that always been the game…hit the players hard, I’m sure that’s what I was always taught. If its an out and out illegal hit so be it otherwise the ruling was correct the Broncos got the advantage cause of a good hit.

      • Roar Guru

        April 8th 2012 @ 12:17pm
        Curtis Woodward said | April 8th 2012 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        Its illegal if it hits him high and is put on report .. its illegal if it hits him high and is put on report and the opposition player is knocked out .. is it not ?

        • April 8th 2012 @ 1:51pm
          Yeah Sure said | April 8th 2012 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          So has it been judged illeagal yet? Diddn’t think the Judicary met until latter in the week.

          An incident is only reported if its susppected to be illegal. It is then passed on to the jurdicary to judge weather its actually was…is it not?

          If it was up to reporters to pass judgement then there would be no players left on the field.

    • April 8th 2012 @ 9:35am
      oikee said | April 8th 2012 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Maybe they could add a extra 2 interchanges if your player is knocked out and cant come back. They need to look at rewarding the team that might lose the player, but Teo should only go on report, he did not attack Graot’s head, he hit him flush. So he was not aiming at his head. This is the fine line, and to adress accidental knockouts, you need to be looking at ways so that you dont punish either team. Extra interchanges or the extra man like Tim has mentioned, either way, it needs to be looked at, every now and then someone will be knocked out, either liget, or even ill-liget.
      It is a area to look at.
      While i am here. The Torso rule. You cant have it both ways Gallop, if your body can ground the ball, then your body can knock the ball on. You have to fix this rule and i wont let it go, it makes the game look amatuer. And it is hard to explain to international guests that this is not a knock-on because it went forward off his body. Forward off his body Gallop, its all in the wording, FORWARD.

      My international guest, “the ball went forward, this is knock-on no.”,,,, um duh, “no, this is not knock on Chum Lee”.
      “oh, not knock-on, this funny game, not knock on, knock on, it make no sense”. ?
      Yes i know Chum Lee, try telling that to Gallop. 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        April 8th 2012 @ 12:18pm
        Curtis Woodward said | April 8th 2012 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        I wrote an article a while back about judging every shoulder charge on its merrits .. but there is no explanation for how one team gets an advantage when a player is knocked out from a high shot

        • April 8th 2012 @ 2:15pm
          Yeah Sure said | April 8th 2012 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

          So your willing to give a team an advantage when the whole situation hasn’t been investigated to the full extent of the NRL reporting system?

          Incidents have been reported in the past and have been dropped when they reached the judicary. Just to give one team an advantaged on the night automatically just because someone got knocked out is pretty stupid reallly. I mean what if that automatic advantange cost the infringing team the game, only to have the perpertrator sent to the judicary and let off with out any penalty.

          That wouldn’t be right, would it now.

          The system fine as it is. If the referee judges the infringment is bad enough for a penalties/send off then so be it. There’s no need to change it.

          • April 8th 2012 @ 4:56pm
            Blaze said | April 8th 2012 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

            So your saying groat possibly knocked himself out? No matter which way you look at it, teo made contact with groats head, in fact enough contact to knock him stupid and render him non existent for the rest of the game. Whether it was accidental or not there is a player gone from the allocated amount of players allowed from one team, as a direct action from a player from the other team. This is highly unfair to say the least and to allow the disadvantaged an extra player in these circumstances is the only fair system. It doesn’t punish the other team, if anything it still disadvantages the other team by including a lesser talented player. An I say this because he would have already been in the team if he was better.. The offending player being put on report goes thru the same judiciary proceedings and will answer to something then… Otherwise there is no favorable advantage to either side, so what is the issue. It makes complete and utter sense. It also stops the temptation of putting that player back out on the ground if the team got desperate enough… Saftey is a key point in this situation as well.

            • April 8th 2012 @ 6:46pm
              steve b said | April 8th 2012 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

              I agree and thats why its got to be banned then its instant off , that way the player gets punished and not the opposing team . thats if he can continue to carrie on and play its a shocker it needs to be gone,

    • April 8th 2012 @ 10:57am
      Johnno said | April 8th 2012 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      What rugby league needs to do in my opinion.

      -THese shoulder charges are great to watch for the fans, but for kids the next generation of pro players, rugby league will lose kids playing the sport as too many kids will be scared to play it after inceidents like last night and the Frank pritchard tackle early in the year.

      -SO long term league loses if they don’t get tough shoulder charges.

      -How get tough well this.
      Keep shoulder charges but any shoulder charges to the head ban suspend the player for 8 weeks-12weeks.
      Tha will make the player think twice about doing it.

      -And if they do it in state of origin or in the grand final ban them for 25 weeks suspension which basically means all of next season.THAT IS RIGHT 25 WEEK BAN.

      That means in a grand final no one will play up or get physical. which is good we don’t want any illegal tactics. be physical but with in the rules. And a big fin too in other words 80% of there contract for next year.

      Just remember if you can AListair lynch in AFL in his last match in 2004, he knew he was retiring so didn’t get care what he did, he started multiple fights , took players out really caused trouble. he got a massive suspension but it didn’t matter coz he was retiring, AND THE FINES WERE NOT HARD ENOUGH.

      so if int he grand final you do a tackle like frank pritchard early in the season or on the weekend in a grand final or state of origin match you get a 25 week ban that will make the player think twice.

      Or the tackle that T-rex williams did on the cronulla player , give him more than 7 give him 10 weeks.
      anD THE TACKLE t-rex did in the 4 nations last year if that was a grand final give him 25 weeks. He only got 1.

      You have to get tough in grand finals and state of origins otherwise players will push it too the limit too much.

      And with helmets as des hasler suggested do we all wear ehlemts, maybe the time is now where rugby league players have to wear gridiron style helmets, or better helmets than currently, and better padding not he shoulders and chest.

      -But something has to be done , and i think the best way is too get real tough on suspensions, especially n grand finals and state of origins. And 20-25 week suspensions will make you think twice about going for a big risky shoulder charge that could connect with the head,

      • April 9th 2012 @ 1:35pm
        Big_Marn2000 said | April 9th 2012 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        what the hell is banning someone for 25 weeks going to do? If I was an NRL player and I got banned for 25 weeks I’d do a Sonny Bill and go out the back door to rugby (that is the only time I would ever advocate pulling a Sonny Bill).

    • April 8th 2012 @ 11:05am
      Bob said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      Boo Hoo to Matt Groat.

      • April 8th 2012 @ 11:27am
        Paul said | April 8th 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Well said Bob…

        • April 9th 2012 @ 4:34pm
          Paul said | April 9th 2012 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

          lets see what you would say bob if someone kinghits you becuase thats the comparison, Shoulder charges are a cheap shot, I cant believe the fools that think blind siding somebody is tough.