Last year it was the shoulder charge at the centre of NRL scrutiny; now the administration is set to tighten laws around the crusher and cannonball tackles before next year’s season.
Following continuing discussions between NRL officials and the clubs over the off-season, the governing body’s head of football, Todd Greenberg, has flagged a crackdown on the two controversial tackling techniques.
While the finer details of any changes to the laws will need to be ratified by the competition committee and the ARL Commission – which will both meet next month – Greenberg revealed the third man in around the legs and the crusher tackle were seen as priorities by the clubs and the central body.
“There’s no doubt the two issues we’re looking at from our discussions with the coaches and the clubs are the cannonball and the crusher,” Greenberg said. “We’re looking at those things and we’re discussing those things. I think the crusher tackle in particular, we need to be really vigilant on that. Player welfare is at the top of our decision-making priorities. We’ve got to make sure that we continue to retain the fabric of the toughness of rugby league, but not at the detriment of the players. The crusher tackle is one of those we’re looking very closely at.”
It is believed the NRL will look at increasing the judiciary penalties for crusher tackles – whereby a defender places pressure on the ball-carrier’s head and neck using their upper body. Those who carry out dangerous cannonball tackles – spearing in at a player’s legs while he is held up by other defenders – can also expect to be punished more severely.
The NRL will not go as far as banning the third-man-in altogether as it would alter the fabric of the contest too significantly. But referees and the match review committee are likely to be especially harsh on players who attack the ball-carrier at the knee joint or below, and those who use excessive force and velocity.
Greenberg has spent much of the off-season travelling to NRL clubs, speaking with officials and coaching staff. So far he has visited 10 clubs and will meet with officials from the other six over the next fortnight.
“It’s been well worthwhile getting around to all the clubs,” he said. “That engagement has been really important, and they’ve been really clear on their views, which is great. That’s exactly how it should be.
“Between us and them . . . we went in with those [as our priorities] and they’ve been very supportive of us taking a stronger stance on crushers – the clubs and the coaches. And the third-man-in, people don’t want to see that in the game either. The NRL and the clubs . . . we’re very aligned on that.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.