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Shoulder charge ban sparks Twitter debate among Saints stars
10:57am Friday 22nd February 2013 in Sport
SAINTS players turned to Twitter to express disappointment that game’s lawmakers have made the shoulder charge illegal.
The big hitting technique had been the subject of intense debate over the past year after a number of incidents in the UK and Australia raised questions over player safety.
The NRL led the way in the off-season by banning shoulder charges – and after Rugby League’s International Federation followed suit – the UK governing body felt it was right the game’s rule should be standardised.
It means the explosive challenges in the international and domestic arenas – including junior and amateur levels – are outlawed.
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.
However, it has led to accusations in some quarters that the game has gone soft.
Several Saints players turned to Twitter to voice their disappointment at the decision.
Hard-hitting forward Mark Flanagan wrote: “Disappointed with the shoulder charge decision in RL. IMO it should have stayed however any contact with a players head = a hefty suspension.”
Meanwhile, hardman Sia Soliola added: “Congratulations to those who helped contribute banning the shoulder charge! Sleep easy knowing u wrecked it for all of us who loved it.”
Up and coming forward Alex Walmsley said: “the banning of the shoulder charge for me isn't good for the game at all...we won't be able to tackle next #TurningIntoUnion”
However, captain Paul Wellens was more measured and, having previously written that he understands the reasons why a ban was being considered, he added: “As a player I would play with or without the shoulder charge but I can understand why the decision has been made. It's not really a big deal.”
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.”