NRL to trial successful NFL system

It is a system that we have seen for some years in the NFL, whereby the coach can challenge a ruling that they feel is suspect or incorrect, via the use of a challenge system – and now, after some deliberation before Christmas last year between former players, coaches and referees boss Bill Harrigan, it is an idea that some are in favour of.

Some former big names have all been appointed to a committee a rather large list of recommendations from the NRL coaches, as to what rules should change in the future, that include Ricky Stuart, Trent Barrett, Mal Meninga, John Lang, Daniel Anderson and others.

One such rule that coaches seemed to be in favour of, was that of a NFL coaches challenge rule, that enables the coach to challenge on a decision he does not agree with.

Harrigan himself is in support of such a system, that will enable coaches to:

  • Use two challenges (one in each half, as well as an additional one for golden point).
  • Use a buzzer in the coach’s box that will alert the video referee of the challenge, or it will be the team’s captain to alert the referees of the challenge.
  • A maximum time period of 60 seconds, in which the referees will look at the incident, and decide as to whether or not to reverse it.

Such a development however will not be in the NRL for a while, but discussions are in place to trial it in the Toyota Cup this year, as well as in trials for season 2013.

Nathan McGuirk, who is the NRL Operations Manager, said:

“We had a brainstorming session and we had six pages of ideas that had come from all the NRL coaches,” McGuirk said.

“The committee looked at them all and discussed the pros and cons of each one briefly.

“With the challenge system it was pretty universal in that everyone thought it had merit and was worthy of further investigation and trials.”

Despite the discussions on a challenge system however, McGuirk says that the decision to discuss such a possibility, does not stem from recent poor refereeing errors in Rd 1.

“We’ll look at it over the next 12 months and discuss the mechanics to best suit rugby league,” McGuirk said. “We’ve got to do a lot more work on it to make sure we get it right but I don’t see why it couldn’t start next year.

“Do we just introduce it around tryscoring situations, do we expand it into general play as well?

“We’ve got to look at what impact it would have on the flow of the game but the overall idea has a lot of merit.”Whatever happens, NRL officials want to ensure it has no effect on the flow of football. It’s why stoppages will be limited to a minute.

“Fans don’t want games getting bogged down with instant replays,” McGuirk said.

Even NRL CEO David Gallop is on board with the idea, and it is an idea that he will take to the Independent Commission, later this year.

“It would certainly add an exciting element to the game,” Gallop said.

“Our referees do an outstanding job but any opportunity to introduce further safeguards into decision making is worth looking at.

“It would allow our coaches and teams to be part of the process on crucial decisions and it would add a further dimension to the game.”

Whilst the idea of a challenge system has its supporters, there are others who are against it, like Sharks captain Paul Gallen – whose team was oddly enough, on the end of a rather contentious call in their Rd 1 clash.

“We don’t want the game to become too much like American football,” Gallen said. “Rugby league has been a great game for 100 years. We’ve already got a video referee and that’s enough for my liking.

“It was a terrible mistake that cost us against the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval but 99.9 per cent of times it wouldn’t happen.

“I’d prefer to leave it as it is.”

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