You know, apart from the rules, the time keeping, the referees, the salary cap, the schedule and the venues…..nothing in Rugby League needs changed according to the NRL.
No other sport on the planet decides to change it’s rules as often as Rugby League does. In some ways it can be a blessing, after all if the rules didn’t change we would all be watching and playing Rugby Union.
It has got to a point however where by people at the NRL and justifying their existence by suggesting rule change upon rule change. We have even come full circle, changing rules and then changing them back. Then we wonder why players, commentators and supporters are confused by decisions made by referees.
When the NRL was formed in late 1997 after The Super League War the games administration went about getting the game back in decent shape. When things had settled down they were the able to look at ways they could improve the game. One of the suggested improvements was for the games administration to listen to coaches when it comes to rule changes that needed to be made.
Once coaches were able to have their say on the games rules, issues started to arise. You see, coaches want to see the games rules and the way those rules are interpreted changed so that the team they coach has a better chance of winning.
One thing every coach hates is unpredictability. You can’t play for an control unpredictable elements within the game. That is what saw the quick tap eliminated, by coaches request. After a few years when the quick tap was brought back, it was brought back only under certain conditions. You see, coaches didn’t want players just taking a quick tap when every they felt like it, they wanted a quick tap to only happen in controlled situations. So the quick tap was brought back and we have now got a situation where there are so many rules and regulations that control a quick tap that you hardly ever see them happen!
When “wrestling” became a problem coaches didn’t like it. That is to say, they didn’t like that the Melbourne Storm were more effective as controlling the speed of the ruck better than anyone else. So the decision was made that two referees would be put in place so that any unnecessary slowing down of the play the ball could be controlled by a second referee.
It worked well too. All teams found that they could not slow the game down as much as they used to and we saw free flowing football as a result.
As always, coaches never lose football games. Over time as teams lost games they needed to turn to their favourite old punching bag. This time however instead of having one referee to blame, they had two of them!
So now instead of whinging about inconsistency from game to game between referees they started to complain about consistency between the two referees on the field in individual games.
The NRL as always listened, and they changed the way games were being handled. They allowed there to be one main referee and the another to cover the play the ball.
That worked well for a while. Then coaches started losing games. So what did they do? They whinged about the referees! Now coaches said that two referees were just too inconsistent in general and that we should go back to one referee. Keep in mind this is being said at the same time as coaches are started to whinge about the South Sydney Rabbitohs doing well because they are slowing down the speed of the opposition play the ball. Something like that could only be helped by going back to one referee….right? Right….
I’ve said before that if it were up to coaches games would be decided to a flip of a coin. They would then want a two sided coin. They would they complain about the person that flipped that coin and the surface the coin landed on.
In short, coaches will never, ever, ever be happy with the rules of the game.
Unfortunately we have an extremely weak administration right now that in terms of football is completely rudderless. The business side of things is great, but as a football administration the NRL is terrible.
It is almost as though the NRL is terrified of the game. They want to change the rules as often as possible in an effort to placate the people that say the game they all take part in is horrible because…well…they are not winning anything!
What we need is someone at the top who is willing to back the game of Rugby League. We need a CEO that can see that Rugby League is actually a really good sport, and not much needs changed about it.
No other sport in the world changes it’s rules every single year. For every change we see at NRL level we have players and teams at every other level of the game everywhere around the world that is affected. No one ever thinks about the impact contestant rule changes in the NRL has on junior football or Rugby League overseas.
If Rugby League had an administrative body that controlled the game world wide, they would put an end to the NRL’s constant rule changes. Unfortunately the RLIF doesn’t really exist. It has no power at all. It has no say over what the NRL, or any other Rugby League competition in the world does.
That means we are left to the whims of coaches who want rule changes based on their on self interests and an NRL administration with no back bone that bends to those demands ever, single, time!
Rugby League doesn’t need any rule changes. It is fine as it is. Let the game stick with the same set of rules for the next few years, let the coaches whinge, let the refs do their best, let the players play…and let’s just see what happens!
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com