Rugby League

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Why heighten the risk in an already dangerous sport?

‘‘THERE was a lifting action, but ...’’ These are words that should never be uttered, in that order, by a rugby league official again.

 It was Michael Buettner, of the NRL match review committee, who used this phrase to preface his reasoning for Joel Thompson and Beau Falloon not being charged on Monday.

Buettner has done nothing wrong. The rules, as they stand, have been observed. In rugby league, defenders can lift attackers.

But a still from the calamitous Alex McKinnon fall, shown on the NRL 360 TV show on Wednesday, illustrates why it should be immediately banned. The first part of McKinnon’s body that made contact with the ground was his hand.

Buettner said the tackles were not charged because the first point of contact, in the view of the match reviewers, was not likely to be the head or neck. Well, I rest my case.


I want you to forget all you know about rugby league for a second. You’ve never seen it before, never heard of it.

Here’s what rugby league is: you throw someone a ball, they run straight at other people who smack them onto their backside. Then he gets up and throws the ball to someone else, who does exactly the same thing. Footstep, footstep, whack.

You do it six times, then if you haven’t scored, you give the ball to the other team and try to smack them six times. So hard, they might drop it. On and on for 80 minutes.

The sport may have been founded in 1895 but that description makes it tempting to add ‘‘BC’’, doesn’t it? If it’s not prehistoric in nature, it’s at least medieval in its cruelty.

Why have the added dimension of height continue to be part of what is already a rather dangerous sport?

I know Phil Gould wrote on Sunday that each rule change has the capacity to cause a reaction more dangerous than whatever it is that has been eradicated.

But if you can’t tackle too high, you can’t tackle too low and you can’t lift, surely what we’ll be left with is the sort of can’t-run-without-legs footy we all learnt in school, where the arms are free to offload and tackles make contact with the part of the attackers’ bodies best equipped to handle the impact – the torso and thighs.

Would that really be such a bad thing?


AGAIN, credit where it’s due to the NRL for finally taking some action over concussion.

Yes, you can say it’s too little, too late, but at least they have stood up to the threat of legal action down the track from players who are ruled to have been wronged. I’d like to hear from a legal eagle whether the $20,000 fine gives Josh Jackson greater legal recourse down the track if he suffers long-term problems from head knocks.

Whether or not it does, the sanction was the right thing to do.


THANKS for all the comments.

I had a laugh when Tired Camel told The Bull that the numbers and the word ‘‘nations’’ are not the sole property of the sport of rugby union! At least the draw is now out, right?

El Seano, five years of international in Melbourne was part of the deal with the Victorian government to have AAMI Park built.

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