Gamesmanship has been creeping ever more into the world of Rugby League; the slowing down of the game at scrums and drop-outs has practically been eradicated with the introduction of the shot clock. Meanwhile, the feigning of injury by some players who go down ‘injured’ has been addressed too; those that go down 'injured' after the shot clock starts will have to leave the field and not return until their side regains possession or alternatively use a substitution.

In this respect, Super League has been quick in trying to get rid of elements that have been bringing the sport into disrepute. On Friday night, Catalans appeared to be trying to take advantage of a ruling brought in for player safety.

Concussion ruling

The new concussion ruling was bought in 2014 as a result of new evidence concerning how serious a bang on the head can be while playing the sport. As a result, the way concussion was treated on the field radically changed.

Regardless of the player, if a player sustains a head knock, they now need to be treated off the field in a rigorous head test before they can return.

It's important to remember that a player does not need to be knocked out to have a concussion. Less than 15 percent of concussion cases involve a player being knocked out and this has been where Rugby League has had to modernise. Gone are the 30-second on-field assessments, replaced by stringent tests that force a player to sit out the game or even the next (if it's within six days) if the player fails to pass.

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Super League Rugby

Castleford v Catalans

On Friday night, while at the Castleford-Catalans game, it was brought to my attention that Catalans had two mysterious head knocks to players that looked visibly fine.

While Powell found himself limited to eight substitutions, Catalans seemingly had 12. Twice, players were stripped and ready to replace a “concussed” player before the club physio was even on the field and without any kind of sign the player was concussed.

This was until of course, the physio ran up to him on the field patting his head - they didn’t even have a subtle signal.

Unsurprisingly, both players passed the concussion test and returned to the field after the maximum time allowed. One even had a 14-minute rest just before half-time, returning in the second half as the Dragons kicked off. In effect, Catalans had four additional substitutions on Friday night.

Castleford's Mike McMeeken was also taken off for a head test, but failed it, meaning his substitution was converted into one of the eight allowed. Even then though, the Tigers still appeared fresher and more physically fit towards the back end of the game.

Stamp it out if true

If this is true and the Dragons were trying to gain an unfair edge, then they should be punished accordingly. Head knocks should be treated seriously, but it must be more than a coincidence that on both occasions, the visitors already had someone waiting on the sideline to come onto the field.

Such kind of behaviour goes against the honour of the game, and it is up to Super League to do something about it - if it is, of course, correct - before it becomes a regular occurrence.

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