The Rule Changes to Change the Game – NRL Rulebook

Brisbane Broncos club legend Allan Langer

Our resident referee is back as he goes over how and why rules have changed, who changed them and what rules he would change or amend – Ricky.

Whenever rule changes are discussed in the media, talk of the NRL CEO conference, the NRL Coaches meeting or the rule committee meet, the old heads and media types talk about keeping the integrity of the game we all love.

Some of the rule changes over the last 30 years have had a lasting effect.

Some have made minor adjustments to coaches tactics and some have made small ripples.

Rules that changed the game

The 10m rule, when introduced, opened up rugby league like we had never seen before.

A 15-20m gap between attack and defence was now common and the game changed immensely for the first time since unlimited tackles were scrapped following the St George domination years.

The 1-on-1 strip rule was introduced on the back of cheeky halfbacks and hookers like Allan Langer and Benny Elias, waiting for an attacking player to be held up by two big forwards and then would pinch the ball like a thief in the night.

Balmain Tigers club legend Benny Elias

David Peachey had a hand in the rule change about balls going dead in-goal.

By placing his hand on the ball in his own in-goal area while having a foot over the dead ball line, he ensured his team would get the ball back from a 20m tap.

The rule now, is that the ball must still be in motion to make that attempt. If it has stopped in the in-goal, and you touch it with a foot over the dead ball line, it will be a line drop out.

The 40/20 – a great rule to encourage fullbacks and wingers to keep the ball in play.

Former Cronulla Sharks fullback David Peachey

The Rulebook’s least favourite rule

My least favourite rule is the 7 tackle set.

The rule was introduced to curb teams putting the ball dead on purpose to stop the brilliant fullbacks from having open space.

All it has done is taken away some of the attacking kicks we all loved.

What rule changes would I make?

The rule changes I would make if I were running the game:

  1. The interchange rule – we need to bring back the little guy in Rugby League. What would this game be without Allan Langer, Ben Elias, Preston Campbell etc?

    Do we need to reduce the interchange, maybe, but then we risk teams being unfairly punished for HIA fails and injuries.

    I would have 4 reserves – 2 players are interchanges with 5 interchanges allowed to be made. The other 2 are permanent substitutes. The coach can decide to use his permanent subs whenever he chooses, but its then on him if he has used them and he has a HIA failure or injury.

    It’s a huge call to make, but one that could be done and would profoundly effect the fatigue and open up the end of each half for open attacking footy.

    It also rewards the forwards who have not only power, but big engines that can go for 80mins.

    Former New Zealand Kiwis utility Lance Hohaia being tackled

    2. The 7 tackle set – For kicks taken inside the 20m area, defused bombs, grubbers that go dead etc, 20m tap with 6 tackles.

    For kicks from outside the 20m area where territorial tactics are the aim, 7 tackle set for kicks that get defused in goal or run dead. It works on 2 levels.

    Firstly, deep grubbers and in goal bombs would be back in vogue. That’s a win in my eyes. Secondly, it encourages halfbacks to be bold with their kicks without fear of giving away that all important 7 tackle set.

    If the 20m mark is not the line, make it halfway, I don’t mind.

    This would help open up golden point as 6 tackle sets from missed field goal attempts would require more than just 6 hit ups to get you into range.

    Thus opening up attacking footy. Couple that with the fatique in my interchange rule and golden point would see more open footy and hopefully more games decided by tries.

    Australian Jillaroos side

    3. This one will divide everyone. Cries of “You can’t change something that has been part of the game since 1908” and “this is not AFL” will rain down on me.

    But, its time to change the allocation of points for games in relation to the points table.

    Golden point has already changed the game, and if you watch a game from the 1980’s and compare it to last weekends games, professionalism changed the game more than any rule change will ever change the game.

    But teams that get beat after being drawn after the 80 minutes of play, don’t deserve to get the same amount of points that a team that gets beat inside 80 minutes, so I propose the following – all games will be worth 4 points in total.

    The need for F & A in deciding places is less likely as well:

    a) Win in regulation time – 4 Points

    b)Win in Golden Point – 3 Points

    c)Draw after Golden Point – 2 points

    d)Loss in Golden Point – 1 Point

    e)Loss in regulation time – 0 points

    It would not change the table dramatically, but going into this weekends games we would have a ladder that looks like this.

    1.Storm – 74 (No Change)
    2.Roosters – 63 (No Change)
    3.Raiders – 60 (No Change)
    4.Rabbitohs – 57 (Up from 5th)
    5. Eels – 56 (Up from 6th)
    6.Sea Eagles – 54 (Down from 4th)
    7.Broncos – 46 (No Change)
    8.Sharks – 44 (No Change)
    9.Panthers – 42 (No longer equal 8th)
    10.Knights – 41 (No longer equal with Tigers)
    11.Tigers – 40 (No longer equal with Knights)
    12.Warriors – 39 (No Change)
    13.Bulldogs – 36 (No Change)
    14.Cowboys – 33 (Up from 15th)
    15.Dragons – 31 (Down from 14th)
    16.Titans – 20 (No Change)

    Let me know your thoughts – continue the argument

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