While the introduction of two referees to NRL matches this year is expected to bring a flurry of tries through a faster ruck speed, the NRL will also make several other critical rule changes

Rugby League has been one of the few sporting codes willing to alter their rules regularly to improve the game, however 2009 will see a host of changes aimed to bring more attacking play into the game; with the hope to create a much more entertaining package for fans.

The addition of the video referee several years ago was aimed at getting try decisions correct 99% of the time, however the close scrutiny by the video man has led to some extreme frustrations in recent times. There have been so many occasions where a video decision has gone horribly wrong and others where the decision could be anything from a ‘no-try’, ‘try’ or ‘benefit of the doubt’.

Most of the problems from the video referee originate from the misunderstanding of the ‘benefit of the doubt’ rule. When a tough decision arises, instead of looking at 6 or more replays – simply award the benefit of the doubt to the attacker in the first instance.

However, it’s been the introduction of the video referee into general play that has really seen fans tearing their hair out. This recent rule change has seen players ‘faking’ injury to achieve a foul play penalty from the video referee or long delays in general play when the video man checks a potential ball strip by tacklers.

Fortunately this is set to change and the game will once again revert to a faster, flowing style with much less stop-starts at crucial times.

This NRL season sees quite possibly the largest amount of rule modifications ever; with the following alterations set to occur:

* Each match to have two referee’s on the field.

* Relaxing of try ‘grounding’ rule, tries can be scored without control of the ball

* Whoever packs into the scrum must contest the scrum, throwing up an interesting scenario in time sensitive scenarios.

* Reverting back to the old 10m, not 20m in from touch for penalty tap restarts.

* No video referee allowed on ball stripping decisions.

* No video referee allowed for foul play scenarios.

While the introduction of two referees is expected to speed the game up, the other overall improvement should come in general decision making. In the past the pressure on referee’s has been immense, such was the blow torch on the single man in the middle – the odd mistake could be forgiven. With more assistance and less multi-tasking required, referees should breathe slightly easier and as such more decisions should go the right way.




By ricky

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