Discord: NRL's concussion precautions will protect players from themselves

Let's face it, the NRL didn't do a very good job of proving that players were concussed when their clubs allowed them to play on over the past couple of seasons.

But now, we are being assured, the League is hellbent on proving they are not concussed when - or if - the new concussion guidelines are exploited to get a free interchange.

The bottom line is that it's a good thing the League is doing something to protect players against themselves, and the sport in this country against bankrupcy which would surely come with an NFL-style class action. An American expert told the club CEOs by video conference recently that the legal action they would likely face would completely ruin them financially.

But the NRL has never taken action against clubs for flaunting the rules as they existed before. Even video of a player being given smelling salts was not considered compelling enough as evidence of an infraction.

Players stumbled around on national television and nothing was done.

So it's hard to believe that collusion that happens behind closed doors, with just a few people involved, to fake a concussion can be adequately policed by the governing body.

Hopefully everyone will just appreciate what is at stake now, and will do the right thing.

Flogging a dead horse

Is deducting points from clubs who go into bankrupcy a bit like executing someone for being dead?

Bradford are on the brink of collapse after their new owners-in-waiting withdrew an offer in response to the Bulls being deducted six competition points for entering administration.

RLF chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer says the would-be owners knew the dangers. Obviously a club going broke is not a good look for the sport and the governing body feels it has the right to respond with some sort of punative measure against those who damaged its brand.

But if there's a bigger example in professional sport of kicking a dog when it's down, Discord has not heard it. If the punishment is aimed at clubs who deliberately go into receivership to avoid their debts, why are we punishing the team and the fans, on the field?

Surely we don't want people who do business in this way involved in our sport OFF the field? Punishing the team by docking points would achieve little but exonerate the RFL of accusations they did nothing.

It's hard to imagine an NRL club experiencing financial difficulty being docked competitition points. In the past, the administration in Australia has helped clubs in trouble, by either advancing grants or even forwarding loans.

And what of the players still owed money by failed franchises such as the Celtic Crusaders? How does docking competition points help them?

In light of Bradford's problems, it's not surprising that the Super League clubs voted against a marquee player system.

A word of thanks

Thanks to everyone who commented on Discord last week and Set Of Six on Monday.

Alan said the extended 1997 World Club Challenge was good. Most people would describe it as the most disastrous competition in the history of rugby league! As for his comment that State Of Origin was become irrelvant ... Alan we dreamers often overlook the importance of tribalism in our game. Tribalism is why we have eight and a half teams in Sydney and none in Western Australia, South Australia or the Northern Territory.

There is clearly something to it!

Soot says a summer nines tournament may become irrelevant, like rugby union sevens. I'm sure the boffins at Rugby League Central would be happy to achieve that level of irrelevance. It doesn't matter if the media ignores it, if it keeps the turnstyle clicking over the summer, then the concept will do its job.

DOS called for a PNG team on the NRL. As you may be aware, the PNG Hunters are making their Queensland Cup debut against Redcliffe on Sunday - and I'll be there. But NRL? Is there a Major League Baseball team in Haiti? Where does the television rights income come from? How do you get players to live there? I have serious doubts it will happen in my lifetime.

Frank from Bexley, I suspect, was taking the mick so I won't be responding to him.

Taffy said he liked my optimism but I thought last week's column was largely pessimistic! I disagree that no-one debated union players going to league when union was not openly professional - many column inches were devoted to the subject at the time. And clearly hybrid games are commercial attractive because there are powerful forces pushing for them. You are right, however, to say rugby union in most places would have nothing to gain from rugby league - which makes the prospects I discussed last week even more forboding for league.

I recommend everyone read Friendly_Raptor's comment at the bottom of last week's Discord. I agree with Hear The Crow that Eddy Pettybourne should have been sent off on Saturday.

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