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Is the RFL right to impose shoulder charge ban?
6:30pm Wednesday 20th February 2013 in Sport
THE shoulder charge has been banned from all domestic rugby league competitions with immediate effect after the RFL took the controversial decision to outlaw the explosive style of tackle.
The game’s governing body acted today following the Rugby League International Federation’s decision this week to ban it from the International Laws of the Game.
Australia’s NRL competition had been the first to take the explosive challenges out of the game after a series of high-profile incidents last season.
The subject was the topic of considerable debate last year – and when a ban was mooted – Saints players Jon Wilkin, Mark Flanagan and Tony Puletua all stated publicly that the shoulder charge – which produces some of the most spectacular physical challenges in the game - should remain in the sport.
However, it is now banned in the international and domestic arenas – including junior and amateur levels.
There had been increasing concern that players attempting to execute the charge were not controlling the tackle – and going on to make dangerous contact with opponents’ heads.
In a statement, RFL Laws committee secretary Blake Solly said: “The RFL believes that player safety is of paramount importance and we are committed to ensuring that our players can compete in the safest possible environment.
“We understand that the shoulder charge is popular with many people in rugby league, but we also have a duty to manage the welfare and safety of players involved in the game at all levels.
“We have contributed to the RLIF’s discussions about the shoulder charge and whilst we believed the challenge should not be banned, we consider that the RLIF Board have followed the correct process and allowed each member nation to provide a view on the law change.
“It is right that the RLIF should have ultimate control over issues such as this, and we remain committed to standardising the Laws of the Game across all nations and competitions.
"We had agreed with the RLIF the option to delay the implementation because we are in season, but the RFL Board has agreed that it is best to immediately implement the ban on the shoulder charge across all domestic competitions.
“We believe this decision will help ensure the future safety of our players whilst not adversely detracting from the on-field excitement of the sport.”