Leg breakers need stamping out quickly

The recent ‘tackle’ committed by Tony Suffolk on North Wales player Alex Thompson last week was disgusting.

If you really want to, you can see it HERE.

Anyone who tries to justify that kind of assault in the name of professional sport is a sociopath, who needs help.

The person who carries out an assault like that also needs to think long and hard about their state of mind.

The tackle, which was a sickening attempt to deliberately break an opponent’s leg (or worse), could have ended Thompson’s career.

It has certainly cost him the rest of his playing money for the rest of the season, as well as having to have an unpaid week off work.

Trying to injure someone and thereby affecting their ability to earn a living might well be a matter for the civil courts, in the hands of a skilled lawyer.

And that is exactly what we want to keep out of our game – legal actions relating to matters which happen on the pitch, because if that happens then the very existence of rugby league as we know it could be at stake.

Legal challenges for injuries sustained on the park could end up making the game unplayable in its present format, simply because it has been deemed too dangerous by a series of judge’s decisions.

We already have a problem with participation numbers. Would any right-thinking parent want to see their son turn into the kind of man who sets out to maim someone? Would they want their son or daughter maimed by such an individual?

No, would be the rational response.

Marc Sneyd has also been banned today, though the two-game suspension suggest that the disciplinary panel felt that there were mitigating circumstances.

Having to spoken to him, Sneyd does not strike me as the kind of man who would set out to hurt a fellow professional.

But the use of that style of tackling technique is becoming a blight on the game. Like the cannonball tackle, it is basically a more brutal way of getting someone on the floor.

Too much tackle technique these days seems to be derived from martial arts fighting. Rugby league is not about fighting and setting out to hurt people, it is about playing a tough game in an entertaining way.

It’s about fun, not violence. We all like a bit of spice in a game, but players setting out to injure each other becomes a war, not a game.

The relentless focus on aggression and intimidation by some coaches also needs to be tempered. The point of the game is to score tries, not knock people out.

If I want to see blokes trying to hurt each other I can hang around outside nightclubs in city centres on Saturday nights. There’s plenty of aggro to be found there.

My own feeling is that Suffolk should have been banned sine die. He and his club should also publicly apologise. A £100 fine seems pretty paltry.

Some kind of charge of bringing the game in disrepute should also have been considered.

Serious punishments are needed to get this type of tackle out of the game. The days of ‘thugby league’ are long gone.

They took serious action in the 1970s in Australia to clean the game up, and serious action is needed again, before the game we love ends up changing very much for the worse, whatever happens.

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