Rugby League ready for Ref Ruck Rules
With no competition, the media have done a great job of finding stories to publish each day. In some cases, levels of creativity above the norm have been required. For instance, heaven forbid, a journalist might present an argument counter to what they actually believe.
Whatever rule changes are proposed in the game, criticism always ensures. Some of those questioning the return to one referee for this season may just be the ones who have criticized the two ref system in the past.
V'landys proposes to test the new system for this shortened season, then reassess the situation for 2021. If the system reverts, the impact will be on this season alone, which is already heavily impacted. What a great opportunity to try a few changes, for a resilient game that will bounce back stronger next year. Nobody really knows which referee system is the best one, but here's a chance to help us find out.
The six-again rule at the ruck is an excellent one, and long overdue. The biggest flaw in the game has been to allow the offending team to be the one that gets rewarded. And rewarded handsomely. A penalty that is blown when a team is attacking strongly and stretching the opposition defense, slows the game enough to take all the wind out of the sails of the attacking team. The bigger 'penalty', of sin-binning a player for a professional foul, kills the attacking momentum completely. You rarely see a team score after receiving this 'ádvantage'. So a quick play-on will not only improve the spectacle, it will advantage the team that deserves it. However, the rule needs to go a step further. Give the referee the discretion to sin-bin a player at the end of the next set-of-six. Playing advantage has always been hard for a structured game like rugby league. The six-again rule provides the perfect opportunity to do so, and again would advantage the deserving team.
While we're at it, what about the bunker? It's been a stinker, but they've spent so much money it won't be abandoned now. And the test case of two captains challenges per half that worked so well a few seasons ago, was obviously never going to be seriously considered. So if we're stuck with it, and can't limit the number of referrals per game, why can't we set a time limit? The video referee should have no more than 30 seconds to make a decision, and if they are still unsure, they simply go with the refs call. It is infuriating as a spectator to watch minutes of replay on replay. And then to see referees with too much time second-guess themselves, sometimes making obvious mistakes.
Let's give the rule changes a chance in this year of unprecedented rule changes, most of which have worked to our advantage so far.
As for the number of referees? I believe the two-referee system has been a success. But I don't know for sure. And I'm glad I'm not a Raiders fan. There's a fair chance they'd be reigning premiers under a one-referee system.