The interpretation of the shoulder-charge seems to change every week, and the recent Michael Ennis and Jack Wighton incidents have thrust the contention tackle back into the spotlight.
For Windback Wednesday we’re going back just a few years to an incident in a Rabbitohs-Dragons clash that irrevocably changed modern rugby league.
In a late-season 2012 encounter, much-admired Saints forward Dean Young broke into the clear before his run was halted by a spectacular shoulder-charge from Souths fullback Greg Inglis.
The hit connected with Young’s head and left him out cold. Inglis was rubbed out for three matches on a Grade 3 Dangerous Contact charge, but the tackle divided opinion.
Some attested there was nothing wrong with the shot and Young falling as Inglis connected contributed to the high contact. Most agreed Inglis, who pleaded not guilty, deserved some form of suspension for the tackle that left the former Test forward sick and sorry.
But the NRL’s decision to ban the shoulder-charge altogether was met with howls of protest by the vast majority of fans and players, labelled an over-the-top safety measure that was siphoning the physicality and gladiatorial aspect out of the code.
Shoulder-charges that connected with the head already incurred suspensions – so wasn’t that enough of a deterrent, without having to remove a much-loved part of the game altogether?
While the proof may be in the pudding with less players knocked out from shoulder-charges gone wrong, we certainly miss big, legal hits like this one from David Kidwell on Willie Mason from the 2006 Tri-Nations.