Opinion: What a Gubby Mess

Charlie Gubb against Manly on the weekend (Photosport)
Charlie Gubb against Manly on the weekend (Photosport)

The Law is an ass.

A classic line from Charles Dickens in "Oliver Twist", but it applies just as equally to the NRL Judiciary 180 years later.

Charlie Gubb's season is in tatters after being hit with a seven week suspension for a shoulder charge on Manly forward Darcy Lussick. A shoulder charge no one noticed during the game. No one was hurt, it wasn't deemed a bad look for the game, it wasn't even brought up in the post match media conference by a coach looking for justice or a journalist looking for an angle.

Seven weeks?

The Warriors could have accepted a 5 week ban and left it at that, but they rolled the dice. It came up snake eyes.

They hoped to downgrade it to a grade one tackle - and were both publicly and privately confident of achieving that, which would be a three week ban.

The Warriors knew seven weeks could be the consequence, but they're still in a state of shock over the verdict. Gubb will now only play again this season if the Warriors are alive and kicking in the second week of the finals.

This tackle had plenty of mitigating circumstances. Three men in the tackle for starters. The shoulder charge didn't make contact with Lussick's head.

Hell, Lussick himself had zero problems with the tackle.

Gubb was suspended for two shoulder charge offences against the Dogs last year and these have come back to bite him on the backside. It means that this offence comes with loading, amplifying the punishment.

This is to be applauded as a concept. It means every offence has consequences down the line. 

The NRL has also established a line in the sand on shoulder charge tackles. Like it or not, it's designed with player safety in mind, so that should also be commended. But the base penalty for a shoulder charge is higher than a spear tackle or striking (punching etc).

If a shoulder charge makes contact with the head, a big ban is a must. Greg Inglis got three weeks for breaking Josh Dugan's jaw in Origin III. This was a grade two charge, the same as Gubb faced last night. Very different tackles.

The severity of the grading is confusing. What makes this a grade two shoulder charge? He used his shoulder, so he should have questions to answer. But most grade two tackles I can recall involved contact with the head. 

There have been plenty more vicious tackles this year. Manly's Martin Taupau leveled Jack Bird back in March and copped a one week ban. Darcy Lussick stood straight back up and was never in danger, Gubb gets seven weeks.

The morale of the story is don't do shoulder charges - we get it. It will send a message to players, and certainly any potential repeat offenders.

But is this really the tackle to make the example of? Does Charlie Gubb really deserve seven weeks out for that tackle, even when you take his priors into account?

It's the length of punishment that Jordan McLean was handed for the unfortunate tackle that ended Alex McKinnon's career.  It should be impossible to draw parallels between those two events.

This is a major flaw in the NRL judicial system and it doesn't sit well.  

Social media is crying foul, the Kiwi conspiracy theories are out in force.  But Charlie Gubb's the only one who is truly a victim here.