Diving has become so commonplace and almost accepted as part of modern rugby league, that no one seems to care so much about it anymore – which is almost as big a disgrace as the act itself.
This game was not built on rewarding acts of cowardice. Staying down to earn a penalty makes the game and the players look weak and soft, which we all know, is not the case. But actions speak louder than words. Any act of lying, especially one designed to gain an advantage, is always going to be seen, essentially, as an act of cheating.
While cheating is impossible to remove from any sport, it is possible to reduce this particular form of it. That can only be for the betterment of the game’s and the player’s image.
While most dives don’t directly result in a major advantage – like a try or match winning penalty goal (such as Issac Luke’s infamous golden-point dive a few seasons back) – far too many of them do change the momentum of a game significantly.
If a player takes a dive, the perpetrator should be automatically declared as concussed and made to sit out for the rest of the match and the following week, to ensure that they have recovered from their injury which debilitated them so.
This could be passed off by the NRL as a change designed to protect the welfare of all their players, while at the same time dramatically reducing the amount of diving that takes place in a game. It would also help games flow a little better and allow for actual skill to decide who wins a game, not acting capability.
With this gutless act wiped out, the NRL could then get down to the business of removing the biggest blight on the game, the horrible wrestling tactics.
While these are much harder to get rid of, more effort needs to be made to crack down on it.
Diving is nothing more than cheating, but wrestling holds and the like are downright dangerous and cowardly.
As if the NRL isn’t hard enough already, every club – not just Melbourne, the long-time poster child for the controversial methods – now employs wrestling coaches who teach players how to attack weak points so as to dominate more easily in defence. This isn’t skill. It’s ugly and pathetic.
Sadly, the longer it takes to try and remove these eyesores on rugby league, the more it will infiltrate all levels of the code and become acceptable practice for all players – including the 8-year-old kids, who will be turned off the game that is becoming increasingly unrecognisable from the one we all grew up with.
**This article appeared on the Commentary Box Sports Website**