Time for calm over shoulder charge

THINGS really got out of hand there for a moment.
Nanjing Night Net

I mean that was actually insane.

A few days have passed since the now infamous banning of the shoulder charge, and looking back I think we got a tad hysterical.

By we I mean myself and the rest of the rugby league fraternity that bonded over social media in an uproar of angry hash tags and furious status updates.

The AFL and soccer diehards out there were probably laughing on the other side of their strangely shaped ball.

But we had good reason.

It may be because I’ve been a visitor in Uncle Sam’s land for a few weeks, but I don’t remember any hint about what was to come.

The players, they felt the same.

Classic, as ever, the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” line was given a run more times than I can handle.

I thought, along with the vast majority, that heavier penalties for a collision with the head was the right answer, and the NRL probably had it right at the tail end of the season.

Alas, the tale of the shoulder charge has been written and sent to the printers. End of story.

The shoulder charge is dead and we will miss it.

As with any grieving period, we must remember.

And that’s why we have YouTube.

One of the things I love about rugby league is watching two enormous men line each other up from across the field, just to see who comes off second best.

Sounds barbaric, but it’s that kind of big hit that can shake up any old bore fest of a game.

It’s why the atmosphere gets really intense and quiet in the millisecond before the first tackle in State of Origin.

You hope some Queenslander gets flattened, just to signal the start of the worshipped contest.

Like all things loved and lost, there will be a mourning period before we dry our tears, pick ourselves up and inevitably move on.

By this time next year I doubt we’ll even be thinking about it.

The fact of the matter is, the odd shoulder charge played such a small part of the game we may not even notice it’s gone.

If we’re lead to believe the hundreds of NRL players who took to Twitter in a huff over the past few days, rugby league is now no tougher than a tea-soaked cupcake.

Without the shoulder charge, it will be less exciting than a game of Hungry Hippos at a slumber party, and softer than a fuzzy duckling.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that isn’t true. The best tacklers in the game don’t need the shoulder charge to give us the big hits for the highlight reels.

If anything, it will give us less cringe-worthy moments like the classic from Greg Inglis and his victim on the night, Dean Young.

We’ve changed the rules so that scrums are less contentious, we have two referees on the field and the the play the ball is quicker all to give the fans something fast and exciting to bark at the television about. It’s all still going to be there.

These incredible athletes are no longer finely tuned on a bar stool like the good old days when the shoulder charge originated.

They spend their lives in a gym and taking skills sessions under the best sports scientists in the world to morph into the players we love and look up to.

If they can’t make a legitimate tackle look tough, they’re in the wrong job.

Never fear the Benji Marshalls, Billy Slaters and Ben Barbas will still be about to thrill us.

Two shoulder charges on Dean Young (left) and Matt Groat which were penalised and heavily scrutinised this season.

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