Sam Tomkins’ tattoo is part of the problem, not the solution (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) The NRL has today announced it will crack down on visible tattoos in an effort to improve the image of the game, after recent surveys showed the code was suffering in its off-field perception.
NRL CEO Dave Smith said teams would have the rest of the 2015 season to comply with the new code, where no tattoo can be physically visible to anyone watching from the grandstands or on television.
2016 would see the introduction of up to four-week bans for players found to have tattoos showing at any point during a game.
Legitimate tribal tattoos for Maori and Islander players have been deemed acceptable, with additional punishments understood in the works for any player without such heritage displaying tribal motifs.
Although the NRL has not named any team or players in particular, the move is likely to heap pressure on the Dragons’ Josh Dugan, the Broncos’ Josh McGuire and the entire South Sydney Rabbitohs side.
Referees have been given authority to police visible tattoos from Round 15, with players to be first cautioned, and then sent from the field to think about their life decisions.
The move comes in response to a survey that named players’ visible tattoos as one of the key issues plaguing the NRL’s off-field perception.
NRL CEO Dave Smith noted that complaints about ‘bogan tatts’ polled highly among survey respondents, alongside other key issues including ‘People who have two first names’ and ‘The Footy Show’.
Smith acknowledged the need to move quickly on matters that impacted rugby league’s perception in the community.“The rate of increase in God-awful tattoos is quite alarming for us, and we’ve moved quickly to get a squirrel grip on the issue.“Players may complain about a lack of freedom to choose, but when their choices are that offensive, we are left with no recourse but to legislate against it.“Andrew Johns and Reg Gasnier didn’t need misspelled psalms permanently inscribed on […]