Skip to content
Headshots are the result of poor technique, not accidents




“Attacking players fall in high tackles”. ‘Head Clashes’.

‘It was an accident’.

“The collisions happen”.

We’ve heard a lot about it over the past few weeks.

“What could he do? He cannot disappear. It’s a collision sport.

There are four tackles in particular in the last two weeks that I want to draw your attention to.

Lindsay Collins on Morgan Boyle, Jake Turpin on Victor Radley, Tariq Sims on Connor Tracey and Dale Finucane on Stephen Crichton.

Before we break down the tackles themselves, let’s be clear that these are all hardcore headbutts. Crichton’s ear was split in two. Radley immediately had blood gushing from a head wound. Collins and Tracey were both heavily concussed and taken from the field, Tracey in a stretcher.

Exhibit A

Against Manly, Collins tried to assert his authority, dashing off the line and “putting a hit” on Manly forward Boyle. His technique was to charge wildly and check Boyle. With a head-to-head tackle, the near-inevitable happened and head-to-head contact did occur.

Collins – who had just returned from an early concussion in Origin 3 – was left spastic on the ground and played no further role in the Roosters’ victory. Collins is the defenseman so there was no suggestion of illegal play.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Exhibit B

Again, Turpin ran off the line to “put a hit” on Radley. Again, there was no lowering in body height, so Turpin’s head was level with Radley’s head. To make matters worse, Turpin’s tackling technique was horrible.

Radley ran to the left of Turpin. Turpin, however, led with his right shoulder instead of his left, putting his head directly in front of Radley’s. The roosters lock was left with blood dripping from its head.

It’s the 101 of defense… don’t be shy. It was a head clash, so there was no suggestion of illegal play – although it was precisely this technical fault that saw Dylan Napa suspended.

Exhibit C

Light utility back Tracey carried the ball to the line. The Sims tried to “put a hit” on Tracey. Tracey was simultaneously tagged to the ground by another Dragons defender and “fell into” Sims’ tackle. Sims shoulder hit Tracey in the head.

Tracey’s neck was immobilized immediately by the Sharks coach and after a long delay was stretched off the court and played no further role in the game. Sims was sentenced for 10 minutes.

Exhibit D

Relative clean skin Finucane attempted to pull the Sharks by rushing off the line to “put a hit” on Panthers center Crichton. Heads collided and Crichton ended up with his ear split in half, requiring plastic surgery.

Accidents happen, don’t they? What were they supposed to do? They cannot disappear.

Except with what we know about head injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), these are exactly the incidents we’re supposed to try to get out of the game.

Obviously, we are not.

In all of these tackles, the defender rushed in quickly and with a target area over the ball. The idea in each of them was to “put a punch” on their opponent. None of them made an effort to lower the body size or lower the target area.

Headshots are the result of poor technique, not accidents

Dale Finucane looks at Stephen Crichton’s ear. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Can players really say, “It was an accident, sir” when their opponent suddenly falls into a tackle? I mean, players fall in all start working on. That’s kind of the point of the game.

Can a player plead, “Where was I supposed to go?” or, “I can’t disappear” when they point their skull at their opponent’s skull? Do I want to “punch” my opponent enough of an excuse to fly recklessly upright?

Players must lower their tackle target areas.

Aiming over the ball and inches below an opponent’s chin is a recipe for disaster. For attacker and defender.

Jake Trbojevic has the best tackling technique in the modern game. When an opponent runs over him, he moves forward. Fix his feet. Lowers the height of his body. Thrust from her thighs. Hit under the ball and go up. Clinical.

When he gets it wrong (does anyone remember a time he got?) he can genuinely claim an accident, not an idle, lazy technique.

How often have players like Trevor Gillmeister, David Gillespie and Dean Lance hit their opponents high?

Rugby league is a brutal collision-based sport. It doesn’t get better by hitting opponents in the head and it wouldn’t get worse by stopping it.

This will be compounded by players who see their careers ended prematurely.




Sports Grp2

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.