NRL news | High tackle crackdown Magic Round, concussion class action fear

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Some time in the next 10 years in a Sydney courtroom, a lawyer will press a button that triggers a video on a giant flat screen for a judge and jury to see.

The judicial process will watch what every league fan wants to forget: the “highlights” of the weekend’s so-called Magic Round.

“You can see,” the NRL’s legal eagle will say as the audience watches players sent off and put in the sin bin for high shots, “that we took a very serious view of high tackles, player welfare and concussion.”

And that, my friends, is what the weekend’s ridiculous overreaction by the NRL is all about.

The NRL is terrified at the thought of a class action lawsuit by players or former players suffering the effects of repeated concussion.

In the USA, the National Football League has paid out in excess of $1 billion to players suffering the after-effects of head trauma – and American experts reckon they got off cheap.

It wasn’t Peter V’landys who instigated the farcical scenes last weekend, his deputy Andrew Abdo or referees boss Graham Annesley.

It was the lawyers.

The NRL is terrified of the prospect of defending a class action lawsuit by former players.

It’s the elephant in the room. It’s coming – it’s just a question of when.

And it could break the game.

No apologies for NRL sin-bin crackdown

The NRL is understandably concerned about protecting its players but putting this blitz on in what should have been the showpiece round of the season – with just a couple of days’ notice – was amateurish.

Fans are up in arms at what has happened to our great game – and despite the NRL’s efforts, it could be too little, too late.

One former player from the 1980s once told me: “I got knocked out cold and woke up in the dressing room … they put smelling salts under my nose to get me breathing again and sent me back out there on to the field.

“That was just one of many concussions I had – now I have headaches, depression and suicidal thoughts. My life has been ruined.”

If he ever gets to take the stand in court, there will be no saving the NRL.

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