It is going to be very difficult for Sonny Bill Williams to avoid being suspend for a high shot on Willie Mason that occurred in the Roosters 28-12 win over the Newcastle Knights.
The shot he put on Mason was high and hard. It was enough to stun Mason and it was put on report by the referee.
The concern that I have is that this tackle will not be treated as the regular high tackle that I actually was. I worry that the NRL will categorise this as a shoulder charge.
In banning the shoulder charge the NRL left a huge grey area in the game. The rules committee simply did not define what a shoulder charge was well enough for players, referees and fans to know where the line is between a legitimate tackle and a shoulder charge.
We have seen players collide off the ball, bracing themselves for that collision in an effort to protect themselves, and being penalised for a shoulder charge!
Sonny Bill Williams is a shoulder charge specialist and yet he has not been able to unleash that weapon on his return to the NRL because of the ban on shoulder charges. While he did go in to hit Mason as hard as he could, as he should do in every tackle he makes, it was not even close to a shoulder charge.
Sonny Bill Williams was rightfully penalised and put on report for a high tackle. That is how it should be! We don’t need to ban shoulder charges. We need to simply enforce the ban on head high contact.
The vast majority of high contact we see in tackles these days is completely accidental. The days of players could out to knock someone’s head off their shoulders is long gone.
While the athletes are bigger, faster and stronger, Rugby League at it’s highest level has also never been safer. While you can do everything you can to try and protect players, in a collision sport such as Rugby League you will never be able to stop accidents from happening.
It’s all well and good for he NRL to ban the shoulder charge, but the real problem has always been head high contact. For that, Sonny Bill Williams is likely to serve some time on the sidelines.
It wasn’t a shoulder charge, it was an accident.
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