Wednesday's Ruck & Maul
The Little Master in action
Our game report labelled Gus Boyd-Porter as “The Little Master”. Indeed, an honour. Clive Churchill, the original and still, one and only, played rugby league for South Sydney Rabbitohs in the 50’s. Sydney’s southern suburbs were a tough place to reside and survive after the War. A twice weekly call of; “Rabbits for sale. Rabbitoh. Rabbitoh”, often could be heard in your hood. If you could taste rabbit stew, you grabbed the “penny box”, went outside and purchased a cheap “dressed” (skinned and gutted) rabbit from the ice box of the Rabbitoh. The rabbits usually came from a successful weekend hunting trip in the country or from actually “farmed” supply, raised solely for food. Lamb and beef were abundant but their prices exorbitant!
A wee man in structure, Churchill was a prodigious kicker; a resilient player who played in then, a record number of games; a lethal side-stepper and an amazing tackler, scything down far bigger men. Churchill also epitomised loyalty – one team for a career, a long lost trait with professionalism. The Little Master represented the underdog, a player kids grew up to idolize and emulate. Now, ‘Gus’ is far from The Little Master but his stature, metronomic boot and big heart caused this Saturday flashback.
The tackle. I would like to take a look at this aspect of play and throw out some thoughts. Given the rightful and concerned attention with concussion and PCS, the tackle law had needed to be changed. As I see it there are two forms of the head-high tackle. (i) That which is executed accidentally or deliberately in the helter-skelter of a broken or patterned ball-carrier. Oftimes it is an instinctive arm that flashes out as seen in the Adibe photo. The law states “(i) a tackle or attempted tackle ABOVE the line of the shoulders, even if the tackle starts BELOW the line of the shoulders (is an infraction) and (ii) grabbing, rolling/twisting around the head/neck area, even if the contact starts BELOW the line of the shoulders (is an infraction)”. The consequence is an automatic yellow card.
The second type is the “head-lock” or “choke tackle” which occurs in mauling situations. ”It's advantageous, because it's difficult to get the ball to the back of a maul (both while the maul is standing and after the maul collapses) in this particular situation. The defending players can stay in the collapsed maul and generate an attacking scrum with high success rates.” The act of keeping the ball carrier on his feet to generate the scrum advantage is an area that needs to be addressed. It is an equally dangerous adaptation to the maul law, yet seldom penalised, let alone carded. This is a change which also needs to be addressed by the law-makers.
Personally, I would like to see the referee have some discretion in opting for a penalty over a yellow card in both instances, dependant on the degree of danger he/she subjectively assessed. Incident one, no premeditation, no harm done, penalty; incident two, flagrant and deliberate choking to keep the player on his feet, damage done, perhaps a yellow. This puts some responsibility on the man-in-the-middle and even more on the AR’s, so it is arguably for the better. Anyway, food for thought.
Finally for today. CW is proud to recognize Brandon Schellenberger, Damon Adams, Ben Newhook and Jordan Montgomery who have been named to the national Men’s U20 long list. Eventually a squad of 26 will be selected to play two tests Vs US end of May and early June. Best of luck, men.