League: Outrage over shoulder charge ban

Fans and players are outraged the shoulder charge is to be banned from the NRL, but team doctors have welcomed the move.

The Australian Rugby League Commission outlawed the no-arms tackle last night, ruling it was too dangerous in the current game, with the increased size of players leading to an unacceptable injury risk.

The shoulder charge has been in the spotlight after a handful of tackles led to players being knocked out in the 2012 NRL in particular.

An ARLC review into the tackle found that although it accounted for only 0.05 percent of tackles in the season, 17 percent resulted in contact with the head of the attacking player, and 5 percent in injury.

"This is about reducing a potential risk of serious injury to our players," NRL interim Chief Executive Shane Mattiske said.

New Zealand already has a domestic ban on the move in place.

The move comes as one of the game's best exponents of the shoulder charge, Sonny Bill Williams, returns to the NRL next season.

Williams, who returns to league after a five year stint in rugby union, was yellow carded in the Rugby World Cup semifinal against Australia for a shoulder charge.

The decision has outraged fans and players.

Warriors' star Manu Vatuvei took to Twitter to voice his displeasure.

"You serious about banning the shoulder charge!! That's what made the game interesting!" he wrote.

New South Wales and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen told Australia radio station Triple M he was shocked about the announcement.

"When you have a look at the highlight reels they're all big hits, the fans love shoulder charges."

However New Zealand Warriors doctor John Mayhew backed the move.

"I'm sure a lot of the fans are disappointed it takes an absolutely gladiatorial aspect out of the game but the injury rate in the no-arms tackle is unacceptably high," Dr Mayhew told Firstline.

"It's dangerous for players now who are very powerful missiles hitting each other with no arms - they do a lot of damage."

Mr Mayhew said removing the tackles will not change the nature of the game.

He said with one in 25 players getting injured in no-arm tackles "common sense had prevailed".


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