Daniel’s View: Were the 2014 rule changes a success or a flop?

There were a number of rule changes ahead of the 2014 season and this article from passionate NRL fan Daniel will assess whether or not they worked. Would you change any existing rules or introduce any of your own?

How did the NRL 2014 Rule changes fare?

“Faster, safer and more thrilling finishes.”
This promise, found on the opening line of NRL press release on the 26th of January 2014 outlying the most extravagant changes to have hit rugby league in the 106 years.
Did Head of Football Todd Greenberg deliver on his promise?
Well don’t worry Mr Greenberg, enjoy your summer break. We will complete the end of season review on your behalf. Go party with Todd Carney and tweet with Gal. We have this one covered.

Rule Change 1: Zero Tackle from 20m restart.

The first tackle of a 20m restart is constituted as a zero tackle, generating a 7 tackle set.

The purpose of such a rule was to eliminate the negative tactics of kicking the ball into the crowd, just so no one could watch the feats of Milford, Hayne, Inglis and co. run the ball back and entertain the crowd. How selfish.

It is an hefty penalty against the attacking team in situations where attacking kicks fall millimetres short of being a four pointer. Despite this the rule has been an overwhelming success with attacking football the name of the day.

Result: Flowing, end to end football prevailed, with the fullbacks remaining as the superstars of the NRL.

Verdict: A great addition to the spectacle of the modern game providing a platform for attacking football to flourish.
Grade: A

Rule Change 2. 40/20 Restarts

The team that kicks a 40/20 kick will restart play with a tap kick, instead of a scrum.

This rule brought excitement and controversy to the game in droves, with BallBoygate forcing Parramatta Eels out of the finals for the 5th consecutive year.

The rule led to fast paced action, and was an exceptional tool used to turn momentum late in the game.

Result: Tries were scored, excitement raged and inconsistency reigned.

Verdict: A valuable addition to the game, with the removal of a modern scrum always a bonus.
Grade: C

Rule Change 3: Stop the clock

In the final 5 minutes of a match, the clock will stop following a conversion or penalty kick until play restarts at halfway.

This change took the game further towards the entertainment industry, tailoring the game to the large television audience, ensuring exhilarating finishes to the 80 minute contest.

The memorable semi-final clash between the Canterbury Bulldogs and Manly Sea Eagles was a valuable exponent of the change, highlighting the theatre of rugby league.

Headlines raged throughout 2014 regarding the timekeeper, not stopping the clock at a noisy Brookvale preventing a Penrith Panthers win in Round 25.

Result: A rush of last minute, nail-biting finishes creating headlines for days.

Verdict: Positives can be sought from this rule change, but the change did not provide enough of an impact to validate such a change from the traditional laws of the game
Grade: C

Rule Change 4: Quick Taps

The re-emergence of the quick tap was one to excite rugby league fans, who drool over the sight of an agile back slicing through the heavy forwards.

Many a rugby league fan does not even remember the tap ever leaving the game, with the rule previously relying on what mood the referee was in.

The quick tap led to a large number of full field tries, eliminating precious wasted minutes from the 80 minutes game whilst providing a test of endurance for the athletes on the field.

The players on the field loved it, no more than the Titans evergreen Luke Bailey

Result: Less stoppage time and more flair entering the game.

Verdict: The number of quick taps per round was limited, and while the thought process behind the rule adaptation was admirable, it was not substantially productive.
Grade: B+

Rule Change 5: Goal Kicking Time Limit
The Referee will call time-off at approximately 1 min 20 secs following a try, with fines applying to clubs who take longer than 1 min 40 secs to take a conversion.

This rule was virtually non-existent throughout the 2014 Premiership. No fines were issued at all regarding length of goal kicks, and in a season with hundreds of goal kick attempts, it appears laughable that not one goal kick was worthy of a fine.

Result: Nothing

Verdict: In principle, the rule is magnificent. In practice, the NRL have a lot of work to learn how to implement the rule.
Grade: D

Rule Change 6: Cannonball and Crusher Tackles

The Cannonball tackle was officially illegal, with crusher tackles to be directed straight to the Match Review Committee.

No one involved in rugby league enjoys watching thuggery take place on the field, and this rule did a grand job in obliterating this blight from the NRL.

High level suspensions for crusher tackles were rife throughout the NRL, with players of all levels suspended for the art, including Australian representative Sam Thaiday.

The word cannonball was removed from the NRL vocabulary for 2014, whilst crusher tackles definitely achieved harsh suspensions, even attracting mild criticism from experts.
The safety of the players is paramount, and these rules went a long way to generating a safe environment for the players to enjoy rugby league.

Result: A safer environment, with player welfare paramount.

Verdict: The perfect balance between the physical nature of rugby league and the welfare of the individual.
Grade: A +

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