League: Shoulder charge banned from internationals

Ben Matulino's signature shoulder charges will be no more. Photo / Photosport
Ben Matulino's signature shoulder charges will be no more. Photo / Photosport

Rugby league's international governing body has endorsed the NRL's ban on the shoulder charge by extending it across all competitions.

All rugby league matches - starting with this weekend's World Club Challenge between NRL premiers Melbourne and Super League champions Leeds - will now be played under the new rules prohibiting the shoulder charge.

Rugby League International Federation chairman Scott Carter said competition already in progress - such as the Super League - will be allowed to separately determine if the rule is implemented immediately.

"Reviewing rules such as the shoulder charge is an important part of ensuring we have created the right environment for our players,'' Carter said in a statement.

"Player safety is a fundamental principle and the latest research and current trends show that the shoulder charge has the potential to create an unacceptable risk of injury for players.''

The ban has been met with a largely negative reaction by NRL players, who argued tougher penalties for contact with an opponent's head would have been a better response to a spate of ugly shoulder charges last year.

The matter came to a head last year when St George Illawarra utility Dean Young was flattened when hit by South Sydney's Greg Inglis, who was banned for three matches as a result.

Inglis' Rabbitohs teammate Sam Burgess - a keen exponent of the shoulder charge - said he wasn't in favour of the ban.

"If I'm honest I think it's a crap rule change, because everyone likes seeing it - it's on every highlight reel with all the big hits,'' Burgess told Triple M's The Rush Hour.

'' ... You do have to change (your tackling technique) in a sense because the decisions to make a shoulder charge are split second, so you have to change your whole mindset defensively.

"I think we'll see a few penalties early on in the year.''

- AAP


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