The Shoulder Charge Is Not Under Threat

When Ben Te’o blasted Matthew Groat last Friday night and knocked him unconscious, I knew what was to follow. Pure hysteria, stupidity and talk of an unfair playing field.

The NRL came out just a few days ago to reassure everyone that the shoulder charge was here to stay. That didn’t stop the media from suggesting the NRL was trying to do the complete opposite though, with plenty of talking heads saying the NRL will ban the shoulder charge.

What it all comes down to is this…

Shoulder charge’s are legal. Head high tackles are not.

When Te’o hit Groat, he hit him in the head. It wasn’t intentional, very few head high tackles these days are. It just just a mistake. It was a slight miscalculation. A few inches lower and Te’o’s tackle would have been fine.

Seeing Groat blasted in the head and knocked out cold for a good minute or so was not a good sight. Studies have shown that if you take too many hits like that in your lifetime you suffer from long term health effects. I don’t think its unreasonable to say that if we can avoid hit’s like the one Groat suffered to the head, we should do everything we can to avoid them.

It would be impossible to remove shoulder charge’s from the game. Most tackling is done with the chest and shoulders these days. In fact, the old fashioned shoulder charge where a player leads with their shoulder alone and is not ready to wrap their arms around a player…they are very, very rare.

A lot of the hits these days that people call shoulder charge’s are in fact just very big hits front on with the chest and shoulder.

Imagine the rule you would have to write to remove shoulder charge’s from the game, but allow regular tackling, which uses the shoulders in a lot of occasions. It would be just about impossible!

Te’o came from a long distance and hit Groat in the head. He should be suspended.

There has been talk that there should be extra players on the bench who come on in the instance that foul play forces a player from the field. To me that screams of control freak coaches looking to remove yet another variable from the game.

If we have an 18th player on the bench that only comes on for a concussed player, every single week we would see that player used, because clubs would make sure they got use of that extra player advantage.

Adam MacDougall suggested the player that leaves the field for foul play must be rested for the following week, and that is a good idea, but imagine if the next game was a Test match, a State Of Origin game or the Grand Final.

There is too much scale for abuse of such a system. Hell, even right now, when a player gets hit in a high tackle, many times they are taken from the field even if they are OK just because they are a free interchange.

Thankfully the NRL isn’t as reactionary and hysterical as the media and some fans who allow their opinions to be farmed by a minority of journalists who focus on sensationalism and creating stories over actual reporting.

The shoulder charge isn’t going anywhere.

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