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Opinion

Rugby league: The real shame of the game

Roar Rookie
10th February, 2020
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Roar Rookie
10th February, 2020
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Yesterday, TIGER penned an article that described an interesting passage of play involving Latrell Mitchell as an attacker being tackled by James Tedesco.

After reading it I was motivated to write my own scenario. I admit that I’m a sceptic and a critical observer by nature, so you’ll understand the detail and tone of my game description is somewhat different.

With apologies to TIGER, I will take up his 2020 fantasy game when Mitchell is tackled by Tedesco.

Mitchell stands like a young colossus in the tackle with Tedesco gamely holding on, Isaac Liu and now Jared Waerea-Hargreaves come to his assistance and they’re all over him, finally wrestling him to the ground.

Foghorn Ben Cummins yells ‘Held! Held! Held!’ and Waerea-Hargreaves, suddenly suffering from old age, gets off with all the speed of a geriatric, then Liu decides it’s his turn and pretends to fall forward, taking a little longer than necessary to get away.

Now Tedesco, crawling over Mitchell, looks around to see if his defensive line is in place. Meanwhile, Cummins doesn’t blow the whistle because a try is very likely in the next few tackles and he was pilloried in the press for too many penalties last game.

James Tedesco

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

So he tells Tedesco to get away, satisfied that he has at least appeared to have asserted his authority. All this time the Souths fans have been screaming for the defenders to get off their new hero, asserting that the Roosters have been holding on all game and the ref hasn’t done jack about it, calling out things like “I know you don’t mean to, but please don’t take quite that long to get away from the tackled player” or words to that effect.

Tedesco, now satisfied that he won’t get penalised, takes a last furtive glance around. Everything is honky dory and he gets off Mitchell with all the innocence of a newborn, but not forgetting to leave his hand on the ball.

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After interfering in the play the ball, Tedesco raises both arms in the air, hoping this will prove to everyone that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, back with the ball carrier, Mitchell doesn’t want to get pinged for trying to play the ball too quickly and mucking it up, so he just tells Tedesco to get lost and waits for the defensive triumvirate to get away in their own good time.

He secures the ball carefully just before he starts the play the ball, knowing that his old mate Tedesco will have his hand on it and if he drops the ball, he’ll probably get pinged, rather than Tedesco.

Everyone knows that you have to hold onto the ball strongly enough as you play it so that the interfering hand in the ruck doesn’t bring you undone. Also, the refs don’t police interference unless it’s so obvious that blind Freddy sitting at the back of the grandstand could spot it in a heavy fog.

Mitchell plays the ball. The well-coached professionals have finished stuffing the game.

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Now, as the game continues, we can hope for some of that awesome brilliance, attacking or defensive, that we’ve come to watch.