Tyson Gamble sin bin Magic Round
Tyson Gamble sin bin Magic Round

Magic Round rule crackdown: Right principle, wrong time

Opinion: As an avid rugby league fan who had the Magic Round on his bucket list, words could not describe how excited I was to attend the event.

What I did not expect was the rule change which flipped the whole weekend, and the game itself, on its head.

Every match was the same old story, an evident gap in class between the two teams on the field pretentiously coupled with an almost guaranteed send off or sin binning.

The National Rugby League’s crackdown on head high contact could not come at a worse time for the game, especially during one of its coveted rounds.

As a silent advocate for player safety, I couldn't agree more that more needs to be done in order to protect player welfare, but not like this.

Several clubs, including the Dragons and struggling Raiders, face the prospect of not fielding a first-string team next week as a result of the rule change.

An incredible 22 players attracted a total of 24 charges which is set to completely change the competition over the next few rounds, but the players knew the rules.

Any high contact which involved the head or neck was immediately and swiftly punished as the crowd roared, some for and some against the strict rulings.

I am no expert on the topic, however, I believe there has to be a better solution to the problem of players getting lazy and striking their opponent’s head in a tackle.

NRL CEO and leading advocate for the rule change Peter V’landys told southern media that everyone was entitled to their views.

“However, you shouldn’t exaggerate or manipulate the facts to get your view across,” he said in reference to the criticism.

“No one is trying to take away the physicality or toughness of the game.

“These are not new rules. You have always not been allowed contact above the shoulders or commit an act of foul play. All we have done is vigorously enforce existing rules.”

“We want to eliminate any contact above the shoulders. Players will need to adjust just as they did when shoulder charges, crusher tackles and lifting of players in a wrong position among other changes were eliminated. You rarely see those transgressions now.

“We need the same for neck and head contact.

“Like it or not, the greatest challenge all contact sports have ever had other than COVID is concussion. We need to address it seriously now and into the future.”

Mr V’landys, you have a long road ahead of you if you want your supporter base onside with a rule crackdown which has divided the rugby league community.

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