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Extreme Acts Of Foul Play Deserve A Sending Off, Why Should NRL Stars Be Treated Any Differently?

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Extreme Acts Of Foul Play Deserve A Sending Off, Why Should NRL Stars Be Treated Any Differently?


Years ago, a friend of ours went away on a buck's weekend. They were going fishing during the day and then out to a club that night. Everyone was told to bring nice clothes for the evening otherwise they wouldn't get into the club.

One of the guys was - who was a bit larger than everyone else - didn't bring any nice pants. All the other guys had their jeans and their chinos, and this one only packed trackies. Everyone started to go through their bags to see what they could lend him. He tried on everyone's spare clothes and - as expected - they didn't fit.

So, this guy starts going off. Angry that no one had any pants that fit him to borrow. Annoyed that they are going out and he can't wear his tracksuit pants. He tried to change the plans to go somewhere else. He's not apologetic, it's everyone else's fault and he wants something done about it.


Our friend stands up in front of everyone and says, "Next time, don't be so fat!"

Harsh but fair.

We regularly use that saying at home, whenever we hear someone complain about something going wrong that could have been easily avoided.

Now, don't panic, this is not a body shaming article. Far from it - it absolutely doesn't matter what size you are. This is a "your actions have consequences; you need to take responsibility and not rely on everyone else to fix it" article.


I thought about our little mantra the other day, hearing Joel Caine's comments that the NRL rules need to be looked at when a player is sent off. He tweeted an idea that he believes should be implemented into the game, so a team is not too disadvantaged if one of their players is sent from the field.

Caine thinks that if a player is sent off during a match, after ten minutes one of the interchange players comes on, and then the team plays the rest of the game with a man down on the bench. So, they are still technically at a disadvantage as they have less rested players, but they still have the same number of players on the field to keep the game... um... fair?

I think he is missing the whole point of a send-off.


Footy is a team sport, and if a member of that team has done something on the field to warrant an early mark, then his team should be down a man. That's the punishment. When a player is sent off, it usually means he has done something that has really hurt someone or could have really hurt them. An illegal act that deserves no other reaction than being sent to the sheds for the rest of the game.

But now, Caine is proposing changes to what happens after the send-off. Instead of helping the game stamp out illegal actions causing serious injuries and resulting in send offs, Caine wants the game to help the player who is marched not feel so bad, knowing that his actions won't have severe consequences.

Because if it's 13 on 12 then it's apparently not entertaining. It makes it hard for the team that's down a man. Because it's not fair.

(Please give me a moment to complete an over-the-top eye roll).


It's not meant to be fair!

Teams train all week and are taught not to do the wrong thing. Do accidents still happen? Of course. And in that case, you are sent off. That's it. You are sent off and your team plays with a handicap. The other team may be at an even bigger disadvantage now without their star player or their goal kicker. Regardless if the other player is hurt or not, you are part of a team and now your team must try and overcome this obstacle of being a player down.

Like the Cronulla Sharks did yesterday.


Will Kennedy was sent off early in the match for a coat hanger tackle on the Warriors Reece Walsh, leaving the Sharks with 12 players. Later in the match Jesse Ramien was sin binned for a high shot on Euan Aitkin, reducing Cronulla to 11 men for ten minutes. What happened next was one of the hardest, toughest, 'dig as deep as you can and don't even think about giving up' efforts ever witnessed from a footy team. The Sharks put on a performance for the ages, and never looked like losing.

And they didn't.

But that result was a rarity. Is there a very good chance when a team is down a player they will lose? Absolutely. Is there a possibility they won't? Definitely.

Does it matter? Nope.

We don't need to work out ways to make it easier for the player who did the wrong thing or help keep the match even when someone has been sent off. Don't change the rules to help ease the pain or make the punishment not feel as harsh. Actions have consequences.

Instead, players need to stop doing things that warrant a send-off.

They need to tell themselves "Next time, don't be so fat."

Featured Image Credit: Fox League

Topics: Rugby League, nrl, Australia

Danielle Smith
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