No tackle rule is a joke
Well, that’s it. Rugby league really is on the slippery slope to oblivion, when it thinks it needs to introduces a no tackle rule.
OK. It’s only under-6s, you say.
But, unless someone can come up with the stats to prove otherwise, league at under-6 level, with full-on tackling, is about as safe as it gets, in any team sport where there are defenders.
This is a panic move, the easy option for administrators who don’t want to tackle the weights/age solution to the problem of big kids against little kids.
The thing which has set league apart from union and Aussie rules is the fact, from a very early age, our kids know how to tackle. They are the toughest footballers of any code.
Some six-year-olds have already made hundreds of tackles by the time they graduate to the next level.
Some rugby union Test forwards don’t make that many tackles in a career.
I coached the Murwillumbah under-8s in 1971, and we had kids who were five, six and seven. Not one injury for the year, other than skinned knees and a couple of bloodied noses. One of my mates coached soccer at the same time – two broken legs in the season.
TEST MATCH CONTRASTS
I am enjoying the fact European Championship rugby league matches are being shown live on Foxsports, but, the small crowds and modest stadiums, obviously leave our sport open to ridicule alongside the November internationals in rugby union, which play to packed houses in huge stadiums.
As I have said many times, league is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t.
If we don’t try to spread our wings, we will definitely be left behind by other sports.
If we field Irish, Welsh and Scots teams, as opposed to just concentrating on a strong Great Britain side, we are in danger of diluting the quality of international football, at least in the short term.
In the past the Welsh, Irish and Scottish sides have been drawn mainly from Australian and English clubs, many of the players qualifying because of heritage, among them Luke Douglas (Scotland), Kevin Campion (Ireland) and Tyson Frizell (Wales).
If I am to believe the television commentary team, the Welsh side which beat Scotland at Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, included 12 home grown ‘boyos’, and that is very encouraging.
The French, with wins over Wales and Ireland, have already qualified for next year’s World Cup. And it is a fair dinkum French side, although most of the players have been drawn from Super League (Catalans Dragons, Wigan, Hull, St Helens) or English championship (Toulouse) clubs. The odd man out hails from the Limoux club in the French Elite competition.
Rugby league has always been a small game, in international terms. But at Test level, before union became professional, we assured ourselves that we had the best teams, in either rugby code, at least when it came to the Australian and British sides.
Now that union has become professional, in every sense of the word, and now that none of their stars are switching to league, that argument looks a little shaky.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe the NRL is the strongest club competition of either rugby code, in the world, and the Kangaroos, at least when they had Smith, Thurston, Slater and Scott – were the best Test side in either code.
But there are massive challenges ahead to maintain the lofty heights our game has achieved, in opposition to the behemoth that is rugby union. (Thanks God the Wallabies are hopeless. That’s unpatriotic, I know, but you know where I’m coming from).
Introducing no contact footy, at any level, is not going to help. There already is something called touch, which is affiliated with league.
Photo: The Murwillumbah under-8s, 1971.