NRL Rules Lounge

Grab a drink and pull up to the booth.

Rules changes are back in the news, and a previous blog deals with several (uncontroversial) ideas in more depth. Remember, the aim is simply to make changes that improve the speed of play and the game as a product. The guiding principle should always be the simplest and best solution to the right question, whatever its genesis.

Right, forging ahead … The Daniel Anderson-inspired coaches summit was disappointing. Apart from providing headlines related to obstruction, it seemed merely an exercise to sit in a convention room at muffin o’clock and ask the belt buckle some serious questions. There is a relatively simple way to address obstruction as discussed prior, though the results of Muffingate are still Top Secret (and probably not as interesting as the original!). I’m waiting with baited breath.

All Stars To Trial New Rules

It is therefore a positive development to learn that the NRL All Stars match will trial a long-favoured remedy in the Dr’s surgery– restarting a kick that goes dead-in-goal from where it was kicked, or the 20m line, whichever is greatest. It is a negative tactic, and should not be rewarded. Further, no trial is required. It’s simple, so just do it!

Actually, even in-goal grubber kicks are questionable. If diffused by defenders (similar to catching a bomb), it’s off to the 20m line for a change over! The attacking team rolled the dice and kicked, were unsuccessful, and should not be rewarded with facing a drop out. Use it or lose it (where have I heard that before?).

Anyone watching the 1985 Grand Final (as just one example) can attest to the mind-numbing boredom of repeated drop-outs, especially in important games. 40 minutes of poking your eye with a fork suddenly becomes an idea seriously entertained rather than watch the game played in this fashion. As Wayne Bennett says, “We are in the entertainment business”. (as did Todd Greenberg). Granted, he was talking about another rule, but the spirit of the comment fits.

Ruck Speed

The rule Benny was referring to directly was restarting the tackle count for slowing down the ruck instead of penalising. The only sour note of this rule is that I didn’t think of it. However, it is just another way of speeding up the play-the-ball which has been addressed in an earlier blog, and which should have been sorted out years ago. I like a bit of BJJ as much as the next guy, but not 4-on-1 in a tackle –ie. It never needed come to this … the refereeing heirarchy always had control, but chose not to exercise it.

Ruck Speed Ramifications

This rule will level the playing field and have profound consequences for the relative success of teams. It is a simple fact that some teams exploit the rules, or non-application of them, far more effectively than others. Some notable defenders seem to have more control of the ball than the ball carrier at times! Remove the cynicism, remove the doubt, embrace the pace of the game. Then again, there is also the possibility that the free rides continue.

Shoulder Charge Approach Still Misses The Point

As a prelude to a future blog on concussions, the effective “un-banning” of the shoulder charge as reported by Steve Mascord (here) will likely create more uncertainty and controversy. In some ways this is fine because NRL fans, particularly tragics, get to navel gaze on an issue of little import yet again. It’s loads of fun, but not terribly productive.

On the other hand, it rankles that the whole point should be head contact, and that the NRL is missing it yet again. It has solved nothing. According to the new version of the rule, arms tucked in is banned, but arms out is ok. I can remember both resulting in head contact through 2012.

And THAT is the issue. Tinkering with a shoulder charge rule is not. Boxing has it right when a concussion (or knockout) occurs – Game over!

PS. I like that Paul Gallen supported fewer interchanges (I would go fewer) in order to reintroduce natural attrition into the game, while bringing the influence of smaller, snappier players back into it. Large collisions are reduced, as are injuries. As a player who rates an 8 out of 10 on the Morley scale of toughness (about as high as you can get, I might add), hid view carries some weight. What’s more, it’s more obvious than Gorbachev’s birthmark.

The more I’m hearing lately, the more I think the Dr is on the right track!


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