The Dumb American Rule Ruining A Major Aussie Sport
The NRL's Golden Point rule was introduced in the 2003 season. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now.
Over the weekend, three NRL games went to golden point -- a record for one round. Not all of the games were of the highest standard, but each was thrilling in its own way, and each deserved to be a draw.
But instead of six teams all sharing a point, three teams got the win, and three got diddly. This was hardly fair for the Tigers, Rabbitohs and Knights, all of whom were level with their opponents after the allotted 80 minutes.
Golden Point was borrowed from soccer, where the rule existed to find a clear-cut winner after draws in tournaments -- where you simply must have a winner due to scheduling issues.
But culturally, the rule borrows more from America, where they abhor draws in regular season games because of the black-or-white, win-or-lose, no-grey-areas binary American culture.
As all sports fans know, the big four American sports -- NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB -- all have some form of overtime to force a result in tied games (it's always a "tie" in America, never a "draw").
Somewhere along the line, NRL bosses decided that we needed to follow them, even though most fans are perfectly comfortable with shared points after an even contest.
The biggest problem with NRL Golden Point is it fundamentally changes the nature of the game. Suddenly you go from a game where you're trying to score tries to a field goal battle.
One minute you're playing chess. The next, you're like 'ah what the heck, let's settle this with a game of checkers'.
America's NFL has solved this problem. It has in effect a "golden touchdown" rule, although it's not called that. Basically, the first touchdown wins. But first points don't.
So if you kick a field goal and you're still in front at the end of overtime, you win. Good for you. But to settle things instantly, you must do what you've been trying to do all day -- i.e. score a touchdown.
That's what the NRL should do. Introduce golden try. The first try in the 10 minutes of extra time wins.
You can also still win with a field goal, but not instantly. Kick one and the game continues until extra time runs out.
Better still, why not abandon golden point altogether? Fans can deal with draws. Trust us, we really can. We won't riot on the way home. In sport as in life, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes things are pretty much even.
And by the way, I'm not just saying this because my team, the Wests Tigers has the worst golden point record of all NRL teams. OK, well maybe a bit.