NRL Rugby League Shoulder Charge

Today we introduce Ricardo Ascenso, who gives his opinion on the shoulder charge in the current NRL format. Ricardo is the newest member to the NRL News team. A promising Rugby League analyst, we look forward to adding his opinion to our team. With the Grubber there to mentor him in the ways of NRL writing, Ricardo is set for a big future in the Rugby League media.

The Shoulder Charge, should it be banned? 

There has been much debate as to whether or not the shoulder charge should be banned following several instances in the early rounds of the NRL season.

Are shoulder charges really that dangerous? Do they really pose a threat to the attacking and defensive players? Craig Wing and Braith Anasta would most likely argue yes they do following the injuries they sustained from such tackles. Wing now on the sidelines and unavailable for his struggling team for up to 2 months due to a dislocated shoulder. Braith Anasta suffering a badly broken nose after a Karmichael Hunt shoulder charge gone wrong.


Do we need changes? Or are we changing the game too frequently?


What the NRL needs to consider is that the shoulder charge is one of the most important parts of the game. Every player has attempted at least one shoulder charge whether it’s the fullback or a prop and they will tell you themselves that its just part of the game.


If the NRL takes away the shoulder charge, you’re destroying the attacking flair of players such as Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason, Josh Perry, Brett White and all the other robust forwards who go in for a good shot. Take it away and there won’t be any big tackles during the game, we lose a big spectacle – most fans enjoying the clash of the shoulder charge and the positive effects it has on their team.


A heavy hit from someone like Sonny Bill Williams can change a game. Knocking the ball loose, boosting his teams morale – it has a huge bearing on the game and that’s what the fans love.


Shoulder charges must remain part of Rugby League. We are already seeing less exciting NRL games due to the wrestle and slower ruck play, the unpredictable shoulder charge leads to mistakes and that generally leads to tries – the whole game benefits. Just look at how many tries are scored from a change of possession, be it a penalty or error in 2008.

This leaves David Gallop and the NRL with an important decision to make. Does he outlaw the use of any shoulder charge when there is more than one player involved in the tackle? Or does he let the game flow as it should.

Many past players and current commentators including Phil Gould, Peter Sterling, Matthew Johns etc, all believe that the shoulder charge in all instances is perfectly legal and that it is what makes the game great. Former Penrith coach John Lang believes the shoulder charge should be banned because he says ‘it provides more trouble then its worth.

“I don’t think it’s the cure-all, but you gain some things and you lose nothing,” Lang said. “It’s not going to be the be-all and end-all. It’s not going to stop every controversial incident, but it stops a few. We lose the shoulder charge out of the game. So what?”

Lang went on to say “I don’t think it takes any talent to shoulder charge.” You’re getting something that’s not good out of the game. They don’t have it in rugby union and I don’t think it suffers because they don’t have a shoulder charge.”

West Tigers Captain Brett Hodgson is the first prominent player to advocate banning the controversial tackling technique.

“To be honest I think they should outlaw the shoulder charge,” Hodgson said. “The majority of injuries these days happen in incidents where people are going in trying to hurt people with the shoulder.”Also for kids, thinking about playing the game later on, if mothers see such incidents they’re not going to want their little boys to play it.”

Mr. Gallop must also consider the consequences of taking away such a crucial element of the game. Without the shoulder charge, there are no bone crunching tackles and no heavy contact.


The NRL is unique in that it’s one of the few sports that change its rules very regularly, it’s a positive thing – the game of Rugby League is always being improved and refined. Sometimes they can get things wrong  as is the case with the ruck wrestle at the moment, let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake with the shoulder charge.


By ricky

One thought on “The Shoulder Charge, should it be banned?”
  1. Ricardo,

    Congratulations on your article! I always said you were going places as far as sport commentators go.



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