Coaches agree on grapple tackle measures - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Coaches agree on grapple tackle measures

By David Beniuk 30/01/2006 08:16:47 PM Comments (0)

Coaches and referees from the NRL have agreed on new measures designed to get rid of rugby league's controversial grapple tackle.

Players will be penalised if their arms wrap around the head or neck of an opponent - whether or not a so-called "grapple" follows.

The rule change was supported by all 15 NRL clubs meeting at a pre-season coaches' conference.

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett belatedly accepted the NRL's invitation after not having attended a conference since 1999.

Bennett reportedly turned up to put his view that coaches should not be setting the agenda on rule interpretations.

The grapple involves a defender tightening his arm around an opponent's neck, a tactic that was most closely associated with the Melbourne Storm during 2005.

Grapplers may still find themselves charged by the NRL's match review committee despite the rule change.

"The coaches concede that it has been a difficult tackle to deal with but that it is one that we need to stamp out," NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said in a statement on Monday.

"They've asked that referees be extremely vigilant from the moment the trial matches commence on February 11 so that players receive a clear signal on what to expect.

"The coaches were very supportive of what needs to be achieved in eliminating these tackles and wanted to send a strong message to all players."

The league's hard line on dangerous throws - which resulted in Canberra captain Simon Woolford being suspended for eight weeks - is set to continue with clubs to be sent video footage of the types of tackles likely to attract attention in season 2006.

And coaches asked referees to change the way they adjudicate on players "held" in an upright position in a tackle, then pushed back or thrown to the ground by tacklers.

"The clear message from the coaches is that they want the ball carriers protected against injury," Annesley said.

"Neither of the areas in question require any rule changes but there will be guidelines sent to all clubs to ensure that they are aware of the interpretations that will take place."

Proposals such as failed penalty goal attempts resulting in tap kicks to the defending team, taps taking place 20m rather than 10m infield and balls stripped one-on-one being called "neutral" were also discussed, with no rule changes recommended.

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