Written by Callum Walker
Watching two Super League clashes over the weekend, it was obvious that rugby league needs to do something about dangerous tackles that are beginning to creep increasingly into the game.
First, it was Castleford’s clash with Wigan that raised a few eyebrows. The Tigers ended up on the side of a 30-22 defeat, but there was a great deal of commotion following a nasty looking ‘crusher’ tackle by the Warriors’ Morgan Smithies.
The 19-year-old had already been put under the microscope by viewers for an alleged headbutt on Castleford forward Grant Millington which went unpunished. In fact, if Smithies had been sent off as he should have been during the first-half, then James Clare wouldn’t have been put in hospital in the second.
Having been taken off on a stretcher and taken to hospital, Castleford’s Clare was later given the all clear. Smithies has already been given a two-match penalty notice after the match review panel charged him with a Grade C butting. Added to that the Grade D dangerous contact charge and the Wigan forward has been hit with a six-match ban.
But what good does that do for Castleford? That loss of two points is still a loss of two points and the game might have been a different affair had Smithies been rightly given his marching orders. In such cases, video referees should be able to overrule the on-field official in what was a blatantly serious tackle.
Wind the clock forward 24 hours and it was Hull’s turn to feel aggrieved. Suaia Matagi’s tackle on a Hull forward was dangerous to say the least, hitting below the knees and putting the Hull man’s leg and knee at an awkward angle. But, again, nothing was done about it on the field and Matagi has received a two-match ban after the game.
In such situations, the video referee – where there is one – should be able to advise the referee about the foul play that has occurred. Fair enough, some on-field officials may miss the incident, but with a significant number of cameras that are able to pick up anything and everything, it surely becomes the responsibility of the man in the box to help make the right call.
Rugby league is a hard enough sport to recover from each week without the added possibility of long-term injury thanks to a horrible attempt at a tackle. Give the video referee the power to intervene if necessary.