RECENT publicity regarding punching in rugby league highlighted by Paul Gallen in the Origin match has cast a shadow over all levels of rugby league.
While the NRRRL is considering a ban on punching in rugby league matches, at a junior rugby league level there has been a ban on punching (striking) since 2012.
The Country Rugby League and New South Wales Rugby League implemented the Tough Love in League policy which is designed to reduce all levels of violence in junior rugby league.
It includes mandatory penalties for players, officials and spectators if found guilty by a judiciary.
If a player throws a punch during a junior game the referee is required to send the player off.
At a local junior level there have been very few instances of player indiscretions on the field
Punching may be part of the adult game but it is definitely not part of the junior game.
All players up to under-15s are covered by a National Safe Play Code which is designed to emphasise player safety and good conduct.
Add to this the National Codes of Conduct which covers all involved in rugby league and modified rules for young players, junior rugby league is a distinctly different game to what people watch in NRL or State of Origin.
At a local junior level there have been very few instances of player indiscretions on the field.
Reduction in registrations of junior sport players particularly in the under-15s to under-16s ages is across all junior sports as a result of many factors including the reluctance of parents to transport or support their child playing sport, the abundance of part time work for children and the increase of hormones in the young player.
At a recent under-14 and under-15 representative carnival, where 30 high-class matches were played, there was only one player send-off, which resulted in a suspension.
Parents considering if they will register their child to play junior rugby league need to see the smiles on the faces of players and their level of enjoyment at this Saturday's Mini League Carnival at Lennox Head.
* John Wall is the secretary of Group One Junior Rugby League