Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rugby League on the move?

The new Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has been busy during the off season. They have, for a change been on the front foot, introducing several new changes which will come into place at the beginning of the 2013 National Rugby League (NRL) season.

It was announced today that there will be major changes to the benefit of the doubt rule. Referees must now make a decision on all tries before asking the video referee for assistance. The video referee will then review the evidence and will only overturn the decision if there is strong evidence to suggest the original decision was wrong. A similar procedure occurs in International Cricket.

 According to Ben Doherty from, if the referee awards the try and then goes upstairs it looks like he doubts his own decision and on the other hand if he goes upstairs and it is overturned the referee looks incompetent. He may be right, but in the end no one will care how the referees’ come to a decision as long as they get it right.

Image courtesy of the Daily Telegraph
Changes have also been made to the State of Origin eligibility rules. No player will be eligible for either NSW or Queensland unless they have lived in that state before the age of 13 and they must be eligible to play for Australia.

The final change of banning the shoulder charge is the most crucial change to the NRL laws. It was long overdue.

It comes down to one simple issue. Duty of Care. The ARLC, as the governing body of the sport has a duty of care to protect the players from unreasonable harm. With increasing evidence coming from the USA suggesting that repetitive head knocks can cause brain damage, the ARLC had no choice and made the correct decision. The players kicked up a fuss, as expected, saying that it will detract from the toughness of the game, but will the State of Origin be less exciting as a result? Unlikely. Little do they know that the decision to ban the shoulder charge is in their long term health interests.

If the ARLC did not ban the shoulder charge they would have left themselves open to several lawsuits in the future from former players who since retiring have suffered ongoing health problems as a result of repetitive head knocks. The National Football League (NFL) in the USA ignored the evidence and has been sued by several past players as a result.

The current crop of NRL players will very thankful that the shoulder charge is banned come their retirement and they attempt to get on with life after footy.

Let’s hope the ARLC keep up the good work.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Turf Wars

In the lead up to the 1st Test between Australia and Sri Lanka starting in Hobart on Friday, Cricket Tasmania (CT) has been forced to defend the wicket prepared by curator Marcus Pamplin after recent matches in this season’s Sheffield Shield has seen three teams bowled out for less than 100 runs in an innings.

New Zealand's Chris Martin celebrates an
Australian wicket at Bellerive Oval last year
I can’t help but notice a bit of a double standard in regards to discussion regarding the preparation of test match wickets around the country. The pitches prepared for the first two tests against South Africa in Brisbane and Adelaide were considered ‘good wickets’ and there is no doubt they produced exciting matches, the Adelaide Test in particular. Whether they provided an even contest between bat and ball however, is another matter. The series was dominated by the bat with almost 4000 runs scored in the 3 tests and only those in Perth witnessed all 40 wickets taken.

Now as the Test against Sri Lanka approaches in the Apple Isle, we hear that the wicket at Bellerive Oval is not up to scratch and will not provide an even contest because it has ‘too much grass’ and therefore will be a bowlers paradise. Some newspapers are even speculating the test could be moved to another venue.   

In the 3 Sheffield Shield matches played in Hobart so far this season there have been one century and several half centuries. So what can we take from this? As a batsman, you have to work hard for your runs and if you apply yourself the runs will come.

It’s funny how when batsmen score plenty of runs, but bowlers fail to take wickets, the pitch is hailed as an excellent wicket. However when it’s the other way around and the pitch is a bowler's paradise, where batsmen have to knuckle down to score runs, it apparently doesn't provide an even contest between bat and ball.

Oh how it’s a batsman’s game.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Risk Management & Surf Lifesaving Australia

After the tragic death of young surf life saver Matthew Barclay yesterday I couldn't help but think that this could have been prevented. An obvious question to ask, but nevertheless an extremely important one.

This is the second death in recent times at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships (ASLC) after 19 year old Saxon Bird drowned after been left unconscious in the surf for 50 minutes. The Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving (SLSA) Brett Williamson said today that he feels there was nothing more they could do to prevent Matthew's death at Kurrawa Beach. That's hard to believe, after a Coroner's inquest into the death of Saxon Bird several recommendations were made to SLSA to improve safety. 

Among these recommendations, it was strongly suggested that SLSA implement a flotation devise which should be compulsory for competitors to wear during surf lifesaving events. According to an article in the Brisbane Times today Vest maker attacks surf lifesaving bosses SLSA have been in discussions about implementing such a devise for some time and are yet to do so. 

Image courtesy of Charlie Brewer
This is apalling, SLSA have had 2 years to implement such a devise since the death of Saxon Bird at the same event and venue in 2010. Surely a repeat of this death would have been of the utmost importance to the organisation. Brett Williamson said today that they are still undergoing tests to determine the appropriate flotation devise. Two years after the event, this gives me the impression that safety of competitors is not high on the list for SLSA at such events.

The risk management strategies in place at the ASLC are clearly not good enough. Sure as Brett Williamson say's surf lifesavers excellent swimmers and are great judges of beach conditions, but that does not answer the question of why competitors such as Matthew Barclay died. He was 14 years old, he would not have been as capable of dealing with rough conditions compared with someone like IronMan champion Zane Holmes. I have no doubt in Matthew's ability, but 14 year old's are sometimes not capable of dealing with difficult surf, no matter their ability.

Perhaps for juniors such as Matthew & Saxon, if the surf is dangerous the event should be postponed or moved to an alternative venue. Common sense perhaps, but recent events suggest otherwise. 

On their website, SLSA say their vision is to save lives, create great Australians and build better communities. Unfortunately yesterday they failed to complete the most crucial part and save the life of Matthew Barclay, which with appropriate risk management strategies in place would have been prevented.