In a highly distressing incident during the first women’s State of Origin match, a rugby league player was left coughing blood and struggling to breathe while the game continued, prompting an outcry from supporters. The incident has ignited a call for change and raised concerns about player safety in the sport.
The match, which saw Queensland emerge victorious with an 18-10 win over New South Wales at CommBank Stadium, took a harrowing turn just before halftime. Queensland winger Julia Robinson made contact with Blues skipper Isabelle Kelly’s throat, causing her to gasp for air and clutch at her throat in obvious distress. Despite the seriousness of the situation, play resumed while trainers attended to Kelly’s urgent needs.
Fans were not only outraged by the lack of penalty for the incident but also by the referee’s decision to allow play to continue, ultimately leading to a crucial try for Queensland. Their frustration is evident in their comments, with one fan expressing, “The fact that Adam Gee let play continue until after a try was scored when every man and his dog could see Kelly was really struggling was an absolute joke.” Another fan echoed the sentiment, highlighting the disregard for player safety and the failure of multiple officials to intervene.
New South Wales coach Kylie Hilder also expressed her dismay, questioning why play was allowed to proceed while a player was clearly in distress. Hilder’s concern for Kelly’s well-being was palpable, stating, “It is a big concern for me when we have got a player on the ground in obvious discomfort and not in a great way, and she was struggling to breathe.”
The incident serves as a stark reminder of the inherent risks involved in contact sports like rugby league and the urgent need for stricter regulations to ensure player safety. Attacking moves involving raised arms and elbows have been a contentious issue, with players and fans alike calling for their removal from both men’s and women’s games. Instances like these highlight the potential for serious injuries, such as laryngeal fractures, which have been seen in the past and can have life-threatening consequences.
While the player involved in the incident, Julia Robinson, claimed it was accidental and expressed remorse for Kelly’s condition, the incident has ignited a broader conversation about player safety and the need for more stringent measures to protect athletes on the field.
As the rugby league community reflects on this distressing event, it is imperative that governing bodies prioritize player safety and take necessary actions to minimize the risks associated with such incidents. The well-being of players should always be the top priority, and incidents like these should serve as catalysts for change, prompting thorough reviews of the sport’s regulations and practices.