The NRL has brought in a list of new rule changes and rule interpretations ahead of the 2014 season. While some of these rules will be good and help move the game along, other just seem like change for changes sake.
The new rules that have been brought in for the 2014 NRL season are:
Zero Tackle From 20m Restarts
The first tackle after a 20m optional kick will be called a zero tackle. The rule change provides an extra tackle to discourage tactical kicks and negative play when the ball is kicked dead to slow down the game and deny wingers and fullbacks the chance to return kicks.
The team that performs a 40/20 kick will restart play with a tap kick 20m in from the touch at the point it crossed the line instead of at a scrum.
Restarts From Kicks Out On The Full
A handover will be awarded when the ball is kicked out on the full on any tackle.
As for the new rule interpretations for the 2014 NRL season, they are listed below:
Stop The Clock
During the last five minutes of a match, the clock will stop following a conversion or penalty kick at goal until play restarts at halfway. The interpretation change will add excitement during close matches, provide consistency across matches and reduce potential time-wasting.
A quick penalty restart will be permitted on any infringement except 10m penalties, where the referee issues a caution or within 10m of the opposition goal line. The interpretation change encourages more continuous play.
Captains will only be able to speak to referees during a stoppage in play (tries, injury break or when referee is issuing a caution). Penalties and scrums are not considered stoppages of play. Captains will be given an opportunity to speak to the referees as players leave the field for half-time.
Goak Kicking Time Limit
The referee will call time-off at approximately 1min 20sec following the scoring of a try. Fines will still apply to clubs when a player takes longer than 1min 40sec to take a conversion.
While I like some of the measures they brought in to get rid of time wasting (especially in regards to when captains can approach the referee) I don’t like the rules they have brought in.
First of all, I don’t think we have an issue in out game where teams are playing “Negative” football by kicking the ball dead and forcing a 20 meter restart. If you think about how good fullbacks are in the game, its rare a ball can be kicked down field and past the fullback to go dead.
If that does happen, so what! It is part of the game of Rugby League. It is not like a 20 meter restart destroys the game. You get to take the ball 1/5th of the way up the field already! Why do we need to help the attacking side any more than that?
My other issue is with the obvious push to phase out scrums.
Scrums are a way to restart a phase of play. They are quick to pack and release from and they give players a bit of a breather in what is a very physically demanding game to play.
We can sit down and get rid of every single wrinkle and rule in the game to the point where we are just flipping a coin to decide who wins matches, but what is the fun in that?
Rugby League is a fantastic sport to watch. It doesn’t have any really issues that stop it from being a great game to play and a great game to watch.
I sometimes thing that administrators in our game like to change rules just to justify their existence. Rugby League is the only sport in the world that changes its rules every single season.
Coaches love rule changes. They love to see the 50/50 elements removed from the game. You can’t coach against a good kicking game when your fullback is always out of position. You can’t coach against losing a scrum. So what do you look to do? Whinge about both things until they are removed from the game. The less of a contest there is, the less variables, the more happy coaches will be.
I would like to see the games rules set in stone. We don’t need any more changes for now. All we are seeing in tinkering with the rules for no real reason at all.
Rugby League is going alright. Leave it alone…
Link: NRL Rule Changes
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