Jermaine McGillvary joins concerned voices demanding ‘disgraceful’ hip-drop tackles to be outlawed

Josh McAllister
Hip-drop tackles, SWPix

Pictures: John Rushworth/SWpix/Allan McKenzie/

Jermaine McGillvary has joined those in the game wanting to stamp out hip-drop tackles after hitting out at the ‘disgraceful’ technique.

The controversial tackle technique has seen Wigan forward Mike Cooper’s season end early following a knee injury sustained in the 14-6 win over rivals St Helens on Good Friday.

The tackle saw the England international assisted from the field with a knee injury, with Wigan boss Matt Peet confirming a blow as long as 12 months.

Morgan Knowles has been charged by the match review panel for the incident with a Grade D dangerous contact and will face tribunal on Tuesday evening.

The St Helens loose forward and England international also caused a lengthy lay-off for Huddersfield’s McGillvary last year with the same tackle technique.

McGillvary, now 34, was sidelined for more than six months after a tackle at the Totally Wicked Stadium last July. 

The winger has hit out on social media against the technique, with the sport across both sides of the world trying to crack down on the dangerous tackle. 

Three more Super League players appear to have been charged for the same technique during Rivals Round, with Warrington’s Joe Philbin being hit the hardest with a two-match ban against Catalans.

Hull KR’s James Batchelor was hit with a Grade C one-match penalty notice for his dangerous tackle on Jake Clifford, while the back-rower was also sent to the sin-bin during their Good Friday win at the MKM Stadium. 

Wigan’s Morgan Smithies was hit with a one-match penalty notice with a Grade B charge following their Good Friday victory. 

Jermaine McGillvary takes to social media

McGillvary wrote on social media: “All the best in your recovery big man Mike Cooper.  

“Honestly these tackles need to be outlawed….absolutely disgraceful. 

“I know the feeling too well having been on the end of one last season which left me out for more than six months.”

The dangers of hip-drop tackles 

Super League and the NRL are attempting to stamp the controversial tackle out of the game, while America’s NFL have recently reached out to the competition Down Under for advice on how to deal with the issue.

The NRL first identified the dangerous tackle in 2020, writing to all clubs about the dangerous contact to ‘exposed limbs using their hips, legs and/or buttocks’ and its potential consequences.

In most recent cases, Cronulla Sharks captain Dale Finucane accepted an early guilty plea on a dangerous contact charge for a hip-drop against New Zealand Warriors and copped a three-match ban. 

Canterbury winger Jayden Okunbor and Warriors back-rower Marata Niukore pleaded guilty to similar tackles, taking one and two-match bans respectively.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley recently discussed the dangers of hip drops on, agreeing that incidents can divide opinions. 

He also told the Daily Mail: “It’s not just a problem in our game.

“A game that’s quite similar to ours in many ways, the NFL, is dealing with exactly the same problem as us (albeit) more recently than us.

“We’ve been dealing with them for the past three years or so, while it’s a current issue in the NFL right now.

“They’re in their off-season, so they haven’t made any final decision yet, but they’ve been in contact with us, and we’ve also had contact with the media in the United States about how we’ve been dealing it with here.

“We’ve provided as much information as we can to them. We’re not constantly in contact with them, but they’ve reached out and we’ve responded. It’s not just an NRL problem, it’s a problem in another tackling game.

“It’s a big issue over there at the moment.”

Paul Wellens reacts to McGillvary’s post

Knowles, 26, will face the tribunal on Tuesday evening after the match review panel exercised its option of referring a player directly to tribunal in certain circumstances e.g. where a player suffers serious, long-term injury.

St Helens boss Paul Wellens was asked about McGillvary’s clear message towards the tackles and somewhat the guilty party.

The head coach said during his pre-match press conference: “What I would say in this situation is no coach or player or anybody involved in the game wants players to suffer injuries.

“But at the same time, injuries are part and parcel of the sport, given the nature of our sport and how it’s a collision sport and things can go wrong at times.

“What I can do is speak confidently around Morgan Knowles as a person and how up he plays the game and how honest of a person he is and how he, like everybody else, doesn’t go out on the field to injure players. 

“Having not seen what has been written at this moment in time (McGillvary’s tweet), I don’t really want to comment much further. I came off Twitter about 12 months ago now, probably for good reason.

“At the same time, rugby league is about opinion. We all have them, whether your players, coaches, in the media or a supporter.

“I suppose what social media does is give people a platform to voice their opinion.

“If that’s what the route certain players want to go down in terms of posting their opinion, then I have to accept that because they’re not doing anything wrong.

“That’s all I’ll say on the matter. But I suppose we do have to be careful sometimes in the build up to when we’re facing a tribunal that it doesn’t become trialled by social media.”

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