On face value, it is hard to argue against the original intent of banning shoulder charges.
The NRL came out with statistics that showed that, while shoulder charge’s made up a very small percentage of overall tackles made, the amount of concussions and injuries that come out of shoulder charges were very high.
I hated that shoulder charges were banned. I believed that a shoulder charge that went “wrong” should have been sent to the judiciary and handled there.
The NRL banned shoulder charges and life moved on….
The problem is that we didn’t get a black and white description of what a shoulder charge actually was. While most would say that a shoulder charge is a player running out of the defensive line, bracing their shoulder, and hitting an attacking player without any attempt to wrap their arms around them, what we are seeing penalized on the field of play right now covers a much wider range of tackles.
We are seeing more and more players being penalized for hitting players with their shoulder, as every player is taught to tackle, while still attempting to wrap a player up in attack. In a collision sport such as Rugby League players are instinctively bracing themselves for the collision, and getting penalized for it! Its madness!
I can cop the NRL banning true shoulder charges. I don’t like it, but I can accept that if they need to go, they need to go. What I can’t cop is seeing good tackles or accidental collisions being penalized as though a player went out to shoulder charge an attacking player when that clearly was not the case.
Either the NRL needs to make a black and white definition of a shoulder charge, or it needs to get rid of a rule it simply can not apply to a fast, dynamic game like Rugby League.