The Ridiculous NRL Rule They Simply MUST Change
You know it, we know it, a blind three-legged donkey who's never seen a game of NRL footy knows it.
The Canberra Raiders were robbed in two key ways by the referees in Sunday night's NRL Grand Final, which the Roosters won 14-8.
And we're going to break down the one rule that simply has to change.
First things first. Let's give the Roosters credit for taking their opportunities. They didn't play their best game yet they still won, which is what great teams do.
But let's also acknowledge the role of the refs -- because controversial refereeing moments led directly to both Roosters tries.
The first controversy came in just the third minute of the match. While the ruling was 100 percent correct, it was a clear example of a poorly-worded rule that desperately needs to change.
Here's what happened:
- At the end of a set, the Roosters kicked the ball.
- It ricocheted off the rather large head of Raiders enforcer Sia Soliola, then pinballed straight into a Roosters trainer. You can watch it in the video at the top of this story.
- After the ball struck the trainer, the refs stopped play, and awarded a fresh set of six to the Roosters, as per rule 8.1 in Section 16 of the International Laws of Rugby League, which you can read here.
The rule reads:
Where play is irregularly affected in the field of play, the Referee shall re-start play with a scrum with the attacking team (i.e. with territorial advantage) to receive the loose head and feed. The Referee is the sole judge of what constitutes a mutual infringement, and whether or not play has been irregularly affected
So as the rule states, the attacking team gets a scrum if play is "irregularly affected" by a "mutual infringement". No argument with that.
Actually, one argument.
Why a scrum (and a potential fresh set of six) rather than a restart of play on the tackle when the "mutual infringement occurred?
But there's a bigger issue. How is the ball hitting a Roosters trainer a "mutual infringement"? If the ball hits the ref, or a stray dog, or a streaker, or a bunch of balloons that have drifted in from the crowd, then that's the sort of infringement to play which was unpreventable.
But the ball hitting a trainer? Chief on a trainer's list of responsibilities, you could well argue, is to stay the heck out of the way.
This, remember, was the third minute of the NRL Grand Final. The Roosters had prepared all year for this game. Why did their trainer even need to be on the field? And if he can't keep out of the way of the ball, surely the Roosters need to be penalised, not rewarded with more possession?
That's what's wrong with the rule. It classifies the ball hitting one team's trainer as "mutual infringement" -- as though it was just a thing that happened, and nobody's fault.
It was 100 percent the Roosters' fault the ball hit their trainer -- which by the way, prevented that the Raiders from getting the ball and possibly even scoring a runaway try.
The Roosters should have been penalised, not rewarded with a fresh set of six which led to a try of their own. That's what the punters feel too.
The rule is a dud. It must change. That's why we can be sure it won't.
End of rant.