The NRL could be set to reconsider the shoulder charge rule, in light of an incident involving St George Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty at the weekend.
Dufty made a last-ditch shoulder challenge, similar to the controversial one that saw Billy Slater cleared to play in the 2018 NRL Grand Final (video below),that prevented Penrith centre Brent Naden from scoring what appeared to be a certain try.
Despite the challenge being criticised by commentators, pundits and fans, both the referee and video referee declined to award a penalty try and deemed a penalty as a sufficient action, while Dufty has since escaped any further punishment.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley backed the match review committee’s call not to cite Dufty, claiming the hit was a “glancing blow” rather than a traditional front-on shoulder charge.
He did however express concern about similar examples and said the rules could be reassessed at the end of the year.
“I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that type of tackle will necessarily be banned,” he said. “It is a last-ditch attempt to stop a player from scoring a try.
“But I do think when we do start to see a certain pattern emerge that we just do need to review it and have a look at it and whether we’re comfortable. And I think we’ll do that again this year.”
“The type of tackle the game set out to prevent was the head-on collision between a player moving directly towards a player carrying the ball instead of trying to wrap the arms around to make a tackle he drops the shoulder into the attacking player.
“These are very different and although they do involve the use the shoulder they become more glancing blows side-on than the head-on collision that we were seeing when shoulder charges were legal.”
Annesley also pointed out that the match review committee had the option to charge a player with dangerous contact if it doesn’t meet the criteria of a shoulder charge.
Watch the Dufty challenge HERE.