The NRL today heads into very scary territory after the 2-week suspensions handed out to Cronulla Sharks players Anthony Watts and Misi Taulapapa for their part in the brawl with the Roosters last weekend.
Most of us know the circumstances from the Roosters vs Sharks game; but to set the scene – Shark Paul Gallen headbutts and then charges at Rooster Shane Shackleton; which turned into a larger brawl in which Watts and Taulapapa became involved.
The NRL got their decision on Paul Gallen absolutely correct. Gallen was the frustrated aggressor who initiated the whole thing and Shane Shackleton was right in being able to defend himself and was rightly not suspended.
Where the problem lies is with Anthony Watts and Misi Taulapapa, these guys becoming involved in the melee in an attempt to defend their teammate.
Now let me say first and foremost, I do not condone outright violence in the NRL. If someone lashes out and strikes someone, they should be penalised in the least. However when the NRL turns their focus onto the group participants in a brief melee and these participants are then charged and banned for multiple weeks – it sets a scary precedence for our premier competition.
The AFL some years ago went down a similar path and totally outlawed minor participants in any form of melee. The AFL bosses thought it would really enhance their game. Sadly for supporters of AFL, they now see incidents of push and shove or should we say ‘cat fights’ every week.
The AFL now sees: shirt grabbing, chesting, rolling around on the ground, slapping, hair pulling just to name a few – the AFL players will not strike; so they dance around like girls instead making the situation a laughing stock to all and sundry.
The melee that took place between the Sharks and Roosters is very rare these days, the players sorted themselves out very quickly. No one was injured and both teams got back to playing footy right away. The NRL is obviously a heavy contact sport; from time to time passion and emotion overflows and guys will let off steam.
I urge the NRL to tread very carefully with future citings in minor melees. Of course we want to see a clean and fair game for ourselves and our kids, but the path we are taking may lead us further down the path towards AFL and Soccer – in which the rate of ‘diving’ ‘simulation’ and general ‘softness’ is sadly evident regularly.