Headbutting Bunnies

Written By: - Date published: 7:13 pm, October 10th, 2014 - 8 comments
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I watched the NRL Grand Final last Sunday night at the Bristol in Cuba Street. I was going for the Rabbitohs and pleased to see them win. But I didn’t like what I saw from Bulldog James Graham – two tackles led with his head fractured Sam Burgess’ cheekbone and saw David Tyrell stretchered off the field with concussion, not to return. Burgess stayed on and is feted as a hero, including by his mum.

The NSW League is going to investigate whether Burgess should have stayed on the field as he was also apparently concussed. There are questions whether his head was targeted later as well.

I was sickened by what I saw. I think Graham was using his head to tackle. Top referees have pooh-poohed this – but the Liverpool kiss is a well-known weapon. The Americans have outlawed head-to-head tackles (in their case helmet -to-helmet.)

As athletes in contact sports get bigger and fitter contact gets more dangerous. If the head becomes a target, more headcases in later life are the inevitable result. The NRL is supposedly taking the issue seriously – how they deal with this issue and all the hype that has gone on already, from Russel Crowe on down, will be a good test case.

Peter Fitzsimons has the best take on it in my view

Personally, my fear is that, in years to come, I will look upon my enjoyment of that grand final the way I feel now whenever I see footage of the shambling wreck of a man that is Muhammad Ali. I don’t say that Burgess will turn into Ali.

I do say that he, and all of us who played football for a long time, will have to pay a price for whatever concussions we suffered and, as in the modern era some of those consequences are now known, all football codes have a moral and legal duty to seriously get to grips with minimising and managing it – with removing players from the field who have suffered it, and not putting them back out there.

And at the moment, as witness that grand final, the NRL is not remotely close.

For me, I’ve had it with league. I’ll stick to football – Liverpool without the kiss (and no Suarez).

8 comments on “Headbutting Bunnies”

  1. happynz 1

    Until the constant diving and resulting histrionics displayed in soccer cease I can’t say as I’ll ever get into that sport.

  2. Morrissey 2

    The NFL does not take injuries seriously. If it did, no players would be wearing helmets, games would never be played on artificial turf, and coaches wouldn’t insist on “face to numbers” blocking.

    And they wouldn’t permit the “tackling” style which consists of the “tackler” hurling himself in front of the ball-carrier. The madness made its way into the Australian Rugby League in the early 1990s: the Manly Sea Eagles had a player, Nik Kosef, who used that insane technique when attacking an opposition player who was about to punt the ball. That had the consequence of almost guaranteeing a blown-out knee for the kicker.

    In the end, Kosef injured himself and as far as I know, no other League player has tried it. I was as concerned as you were by James Graham’s brutal performance on Sunday.

    And, by the way, I wouldn’t quote Peter Fitzsimons to bolster any argument I was making. He’s an inveterate hater of Rugby League, as well as a schmoozer and a cracker of lame, unfunny jokes.

  3. joe90 3

    The NRL is supposedly taking the issue seriously – how they deal with this issue and all the hype that has gone on already, from Russel Crowe on down, will be a good test case.

    ♪ ’cause you gotta have proof… ♫

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-much-proof-do-we-need

    (if you can’t cope punch line at 25.00)

  4. Barfly 4

    ” I think Graham was using his head to tackle”……

    I agree …

    insanely dangerous and illegal

  5. Marksman33 5

    You’ll never walk alone Mike.

  6. coaster 6

    All the stuff coming out about concussions in bloody scary.
    As a player you would stay on the field when in lala land unless someone took you off, as it was the manly thing to do.

    now as a jnr coach im terrified of the kids getting bad head knocks, any sign of a vague head knock and there off.

    Top players staying on after a head knock that is clearly bad sets a bad example for the kids.

    • tc 6.1

      Good call Coaster, caution is #1 in head injuries.

      Checkout Chelsea’s treatment of their goalie last weekend against Arsenal, brought off once fluid was coming from his ears after initially being passed fit to play.

      He was out cold lying prone but all the ‘procedures’ were followed so are the rules really protecting the players ?

      AFL seems to have a better handle on head injuries than most codes.

  7. Murray Rawshark 7

    I didn’t think Sam Burgess was concussed. His cheekbone would have taken the impact, much like the collapsible panels in a modern car. I also saw nothing that made me think Graham was deliberately using his head. I did see the Doggies hooker try to headbutt Burgess as a scrum was set, and I would have sent him off for that. I thought it was a great game and the best side won. It was a shame that it was without Isaac Luke, and that he will be missing from the first 4 Nations game.

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