What a massive over reaction to a couple of punches thrown by Paul Gallen in the heat of State of Origin battle.
By all means, get consistency across all areas of our code.
But just because one or two media outlets have highlighted concerns raised by (a few) mothers, doesn’t mean we have to do all this soul searching about what is good and bad about our game.
I would suggest the main thing stopping mums from letting their kids play the game is the disparity in size we now see in many competitions.
Re-introduce weight divisions as a matter or urgency, if you want to keep kids in the game.
As for falling television ratings.
I put it down to the number of lopsided results and the emergence early in the season of ‘also ran’ clubs like Parramatta, Wests Tigers and Penrith.
Robotic attack and the ugly cannon ball tackle also have played a role. Surely the players themselves detest having to be fourth man in with a tackle around the knees or ankles.
On Saturday I attended the Brothers – Natives Northside 1 Second Division match at Gibson Park, Stafford and what a joy it was to see one and two man tackles.
Admittedly that is because the players do not have the fitness levels of the elite, but it is a reminder of the purity of the game as it used to be played. One of the best tacklers was former Ipswich Jet, Ricky Bird for Natives.
And there was some biffo in the thrilling 12-12 draw with a Natives player sent off and a Brothers’ player binned with referees’ boss, Eddie Ward an onlooker.
I’m reliably informed that there was huge drama in the earlier game between Brothers and Logan Brothers under-20s, with a Logan aligned spectator entering the field of play with the referee his target.
There was a good crowd at Gibson Park, including former Test forward, Bryan Niebling; former Valleys, Newtown and St George prop, Shane Kelly and Brothers crowd favourite from the 1970s, Noel Russell.
Bryan has just returned from a European holiday, including visits to Avignon and Carcassonne in France where he played with the Kangaroos.
In Carcassonne he found a league bar, with a Kangaroos cap on display. When the locals realised who he was, he didn’t have to buy another drink.
Niebling watched Origin 1 in a bar on one of the Greek Islands, along with a host of other Australians, most of them New South Welshmen, unfortunately for the man they call ‘horse’.
“I just told them I was proud to be Australian,” Niebling said.
[Picture credit: Brett Costello, The Telegraph]