Eels legend calls for NRL to scrap ‘no punch’ rule

By Aimon / Roar Rookie

Parramatta Eels great Brett Kenny has appealed to the NRL to relax its stance on punching, suggesting the sanitising of the sport is “ruining the game”.

Speaking recently on The Voluntary Tackle podcast, Kenny argued that by outlawing the punch in rugby league, it has given rise to smaller players baiting the bigger men with microaggressions to earn penalties.

“We’re seeing players who are thinking to themselves, ‘if I give this guy a bit of a slap on the cheek he might react so that and we might get a penalty,’” Kenny said.

“The little guys are now picking on the big guys, I look at someone like Michael Ennis, when he was playing and the things that he used to do and get away with, if he played in the eighties he’d probably only do it for two weeks because he’d be sick and tired of looking at his face being black and blue every weekend,” he added.

Responding to concerns that players punching on during matches may discourage kids from taking up rugby league, Kenny remained philosophical about the issue.

“If you’re concerned about your son playing rugby league then don’t let him play, it is a good game, it’s a great game, you’d like to have more kids playing it but if they don’t want to play it then so be it,” Kenny said.

“Unfortunately, these days they (the NRL) are trying please everybody and it’s ruining the game”.

“It was known as a gladiatorial sport, you’d talk to people who had been at the games and they would tell you they were lucky enough to sit on the fence and you could hear the bodies hitting each other and they thought it was great and it was part of the game and they enjoyed the body contact,” Kenny added.

The former Eels five-eighth also lamented the effect the rule change has had on State of Origin.

“I have people say to me around Origin time, it’s just not the same, we need to have fights in the first five minutes,” he said.

“People used to talk about never wanting to miss the first five minutes of the game because there was always a fight in the scrum…that was the reality and what it used to be like, I would stand out there at five-eight, I’d look across to Wally (Lewis) and he’d look at me and he’d give me a nod…the fight was on, people would go over and sort it all out.”

“The crowd loved it and it only happened in that scrum, very rarely did you see any more fights after that and the people enjoyed it.”

However, it appears Kenny’s pleas will likely fall on deaf ears, with the NRL making its stance clear repeatedly in recent seasons that it will not be “opening the door” to the punch being allowed back in the game anytime soon.

Brett Kenny was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2008 and played 265 first grade games for the Parramatta Eels.

The Crowd Says:

2020-01-19T21:37:39+00:00

Often Censored Straight Bat!

Roar Rookie


Perhaps go back to rugby. You the kick chase kick chase kick scrum kick lineout penalty goal kick chase excitement.

2020-01-19T21:36:13+00:00

Often Censored Straight Bat!

Roar Rookie


Well they are not trying to attract the uncompromising warriors they once had. At the moment it's just large cookie cutter athletes that run fast and have lots of breaks during the games. I guess this reflects the fan base these days.

2020-01-19T21:33:24+00:00

Often Censored Straight Bat!

Roar Rookie


Richard Lowe perhaps?

2019-12-19T04:29:35+00:00

Picking Daisies

Roar Rookie


Yep, nothing like a bit of the ol' CTE to sort the men from the boys. Seriously, the media needs to stop interviewing or seeking comment from these irrelevant dinosaurs who have failed to change with the times.

2019-12-18T06:15:16+00:00

Glumby

Roar Rookie


Wally Lewis’s spear tackle on Darrell Williams? Wasn’t a spear tackle, but a shoulder charge - and one of the best tackles ever seen.

2019-12-17T07:59:15+00:00

Daz

Roar Rookie


Ennis a great commentator though.

2019-12-17T07:58:34+00:00

Daz

Roar Rookie


No one is taking him seriously.

2019-12-17T07:57:17+00:00

Daz

Roar Rookie


Brett kenny is a legend of the eels and the game. But from his comments it seems he is also a dinsour. That said, i love watchimg the footage of the old all in brawls on you tube. Of course, those days have passed and the past (and you tube) is where they belong

2019-12-16T10:41:17+00:00

In brief

Guest


If league was played by the same rules as the 80s i’d still be a massive fan. I see games from back then and think - this is awesome- and that’s coming from a born again union fan. But that may just be me not adapting to change given I grew up with and got used to a style of play so maybe for the younger generation the game is better now - just my perspective.

2019-12-11T23:02:23+00:00

Grandstand

Roar Rookie


I agree with Brett 100%. Going to the footy these days, is a bit like watching psychology lessons at university or parenting seminars. These guys are the toughest of the tough. If you want to play soccer or basketball, then go play it. Don't ruin a sport that was made for the toughest.

2019-12-10T21:10:24+00:00

Larry1950

Guest


If you hate the 'no punch' edict you've only got the illustrious Paul Gallen to thank for it after he wasn't able to control his frustration at Nate Myles getting in his head without throwing a punch. Interestingly, I don't think the flurry of punches hurt Nate, just changed the game to a point where a little tap gets a player 10 minutes in the sin bin. Individual moments change history in all fields of life, this was one for the NRL, whether for the better or not will always be debated. I think the tragic Alex McKinnon moment resulted in one positive change for the game, if you recall the Wally Lewis spear tackle on Darryl Williams a few decades earlier was regularly used in highlight tapes for years. Compared to athletes of yesteryear, today's footballers are just too big & too fit to let them get away with rubbish. I can't understand why these guys want to bag the modern game, the world has moved on or we'd still be sitting in stadiums watching Christians v Lions.

2019-12-10T04:25:57+00:00

Tim Buck 3

Roar Rookie


Thanks for that. My first game was the 1964 grand final. Balmain would have won if not for some brilliance from Graeme Langlands unlike the 1975 grand final that they might have won if Langlands the captain-coach had not played after a pain killing injection nobbled him. I prefer to remember Langlands when he was backing up Gary Pethebridge and would've scored under the posts if Pethebridge had passed it. Instead he dummied and sidestepped to the right and was tackled by the fullback. Langlands could be seen swearing in anger. Pethebridge was dropped and released at the end of the year.

2019-12-10T02:58:11+00:00

Tim Buck 3

Roar Rookie


As Footy Fan said " It evolved to extremes after the Dragon’s era of dominance" and this was when in 1967 the game changing 4 tackle rule was brought in to make the game more exciting and stop one team dominating in attack and defence. The game became dominated by scrums and their resulting scrum penalties and field goals as a way of scoring 2 points to avoid a scrum. The top referee, Col Pearce, was a Souths fan who was the referee during the 1955 South Sydney fairy-tale, was very lenient on foul play. Dick Huddart the English international said he couldn't believe what Col Pearce let them get away with. The 1955 refereeing was why Ken Kearney was coach from 1953-55 & 57-61 due to Kearney complaining about Pearce's refereeing. Pearce penalised Kearney to show him who was boss not for an infringement. Souths benefitted from a friendly referee who helped them to wins in 1967 & 1968 with dubious scrum penalties and allowing them to get away with foul play. Ron Coote knocked Bill Bradstreet out with a coward punch and wasn't sent off, just penalised. Pearce cautioned him but probably said "Sorry Ron I've got to penalise you".

2019-12-10T02:55:23+00:00

Clanger McClunk

Guest


Some good names from the past there, Pollard, Gasnier, Maddison and Smith. Billy Smith played alongside Gasnier when Johnny Riley was injured. Smith became a regular first grader in 1963 playing centre. Pollard and Maddison didn't play much with Gasnier in and out of firsts before becoming the centre pair after Gasnier injured his knee in 1966 and missed most of the season. Pollard played 5/8 in the 63 GF when Pop Clay missed through injury. Langlands also played plenty of centre with Gasnier when Brian Graham came back in'64. Johnny Greaves also had a couple of seasons playing centre with Saints before going to the Berries and becoming an international. Looking back at that time Gasnier had many centre partners but he was the best by far.

2019-12-10T02:12:02+00:00

Tim Buck 3

Roar Rookie


Yes he was a very strong tackler who played lock, 5/8 & centre. He played for Newtown, finalists in 54 & 55, and then moved to St-George in 1957 and played in all the final series until 1967 except 62 & 63 when he must have been injured. He was a very valuable and successful player.

2019-12-10T01:12:00+00:00

Conan of Cooma

Roar Rookie


Players are still allowed to punch on, they just don't want to get in trouble for it.

2019-12-09T23:55:39+00:00

Paul

Roar Guru


It's disappointing the majority of comments are focussing on the solution Brett Kenny is suggesting and totally ignoring the problem he's identified. Little blokes are now a protected species so some think that gives them a licence to bait the bigger opposition, knowing if the big bloke does anything, they can do a swan dive and earn a penalty at least or maybe even get a bloke binned or sent off. Kenny's solution is obviously a tad OTT. but the question remains, how can the big blokes retaliate, without suffering severe consequences? It's al well and good to say, tackle the little guy or aim attack at them, but as Cooper Cronk showed 2 GF's ago, it's easy to hide when you've got the right game plan. Perhaps one way around it is to not try and do anything to the offending grub, but find another player and really go at them. It won't take long for the grub to either realise he needs to shut up or a mates going to get hurt, or the targetted player gets riled up and does something stupid.

2019-12-09T23:43:24+00:00

Paul

Roar Guru


don't forget Poppa Clay.

2019-12-09T22:58:05+00:00

Andrew

Guest


Brett Kenny was my hero as a kid in the 80's. I tried to copy is swerve, I loved going for the intercept and chasing kicks. I met him a couple of years ago. They say something about never meeting your hero's because they are sure to disappoint you.... This continues the disapointment

2019-12-09T06:40:05+00:00

Dogs Boddy

Roar Rookie


Maybe, but does that really get the point across?? Like I said I don't at all want to go back to the biff. I would be happy with if two players have a dispute and want to punch on they get 10 in the bin. Anyone else who joins in any way (except to pull the player from their own team away) is sent off. Anyone who starts a second scuffle as a result of the first one is sent off. This is kind of how hockey goes about it. That's why you don't see all in brawls, two blokes punch on, get separated and cool their heels for a bit while everyone else gets on with the game. The referees are the ones to stop the fight.

More Comments on The Roar

Read more at The Roar