Kawana Dolphins juniors Cooper Bretherton, Cooper and Reni Chaytor and Jed Lawrence.
Kawana Dolphins juniors Cooper Bretherton, Cooper and Reni Chaytor and Jed Lawrence.

‘Stupid’: Maroons great knocks back juniors no-tackling rule

BILLY Moore has rubbished calls from a leading American concussion expert to prevent tackling in junior rugby league until under-13s level.

A group of concerned medical practitioners, led by Chris Nowinski, called for organisations like the NRL and QRL to overhaul their approach to grassroots football.

Mr Nowinski said children should only start playing the code as teenagers – and even then, only once a week.

His views are supported by Associate Professor and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital doctor Michael Buckland, who said the wants new laws introduced to ban tackling until teenage years.

“I’d encourage non-contact in anyone under the age of 13,” Dr Buckland said.

“Already there are legislative changes occurring in the US to take (the decision) from the hands of the football codes, and I think enough evidence exists in Australia to take similar action.

“We don’t need to collect data for another generation or two … we need to shine a spotlight on what’s happening now.”

Billy Moore in action in the Maroons’ famous 1995 series whitewash. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/Getty Images)
Billy Moore in action in the Maroons’ famous 1995 series whitewash. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/Getty Images)

But Moore, a Queensland State of Origin legend said the calls were “stupid”.

He said it is far better for kids to learn how to tackle at age six or eight, than it is at 13 where they’re up against much heavier opponents.

“The way the code is set up, through mini mods and league safe, it’s incredibly safe,” Moore said.

“It is much easier to learn to tackle a six-year-old, so the sooner you learn, the safer it is.

“Unless you can prove to me that the brain hardens up at 13. Show me the evidence.”

Moore’s sons Jeb and Ash, both Maroochydore Swans juniors, are still learning their craft from their father in the backyard and in training.

Moore said they’re both in safe hands.

“They learn and are still learning tackle techniques, where to place your head, where to place your feet, footwork is key,” he said.

“It’s all about confidence and confidence comes from perfect practise. You’ll tackle foolish if you don’t learn first.

“You’d have an enormous amount of injuries if it were brought in at 13.”

Sunshine Coast Junior Rugby League president Cameron Herbert said the code took no shortcuts when dealing with concussions.

The newly-elected president said there was often pressure from the kids and occasionally parents to have their youngster return early but they did not abide.

“Concussion is a major part of our first-aid officers training, so they can identify concussion and remove the players from the field,” Mr Herbert said.

“There’s a minimum stand down time for every player, until they get clearance from doctors.

“The kids will say ‘they’re fine’ but they will sit out. We probably go over and above but it’s better to be safe and sorry.”