Sunday, June 4, 2023
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Not the first time a rugby player has been suspended for sticking his finger into opponent's hip

Australian rugby player Corey Norman, who has been playing in France, has been handed an eight-match ban after sticking a finger into his opponent’s hip during a game at the weekend.

This video has taken the world by storm for its surrealism, but it’s actually one of the most vile tactics in rugby. It takes basic cheating and elevates it to sexual assault, and it’s happened before. In 2021, New Zealand player Kenny Edwards has been handed a 10-match ban for inserting his finger in the player’s buttocks in England. One of the most notorious examples came from the Australian National Rugby League in 2001, when former player John Hopott attacked three players in the same way during a game.

So why in the world would anyone use it in a game? It’s all about causing distraction and discord on the pitch. I grew up playing junior rugby in Australia from the age of eight. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I started hearing about players sticking their fingers into other players’ private areas. At least on any team I’ve been on, it’s not something that’s been instructed, but there are definitely some players who have built that reputation.

In rugby league, a turnover, or a “knock” occurs whenever a player drops the ball on the ground and moves forward. The result is immediate turnover. So if you accidentally put your finger on the player behind you during a tackle, it can easily cause the ball handler to back off or react and flip the ball over. It can also trigger retaliation if the referee never sees the inciting incident, in which case you are likely to blunder.

This is not the only technique of this type. Sharp nails, using pressure points on tackles, stepping on ankles or hamstrings – all for the purpose of force knocking Door. Heck, when I was 10, a player was found (with the help of his parents) filing the plastic spikes on his cleats into sharp points, so they looked like the intersection between the cleat and the track , so got kicked out of my youth league peak. When they met the child’s father, he pushed an officer and threw him a bottle of lemonade.

This recent incident could spell the end of Norman’s career. He is currently on a one-year contract with Toulouse with just four games remaining in the year. That means if the 31-year-old tries to return in 2023, he will miss the first four games as the suspension will be extended.

More importantly, the Rugby League world needs to take this more seriously. While this is already one of the harshest penalties a player can receive for misconduct, the game seems reluctant to fully acknowledge these actions as a form of sexual assault. Whether or not they’ve always been part of the game will need to be wiped out with a serious, career-defining suspension.

With two incidents in the past two years and more likely to be missed by officials, the problem doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.



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