Punish a dropped ball in rugby league
A growing proportion of rugby league fans’ discontent arrives on a weekly basis in the form of contentious decisions by referees.
“The ref cost us the match” is a catch cry you generally hear from bitter fans, especially when games have gone down to the wire.
The knock-on rule, which is one of the most controversial every week, often requires the referee to make a call when he cannot see the incident in the first place.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard fans say: “He knocked that ball on, it didn’t go backwards. Are you blind? A few tackles later you guys scored a try. How much did you pay the ref?”
Could the game afford to lose some of its complexity and conjecture, while helping newcomers to the game more easily develop a better understanding of its laws?
A new rule that allowed for a change over for any dropped ball regardless of whether it is backwards, forwards, or sideways would considerably simplify the game.
A motion that constitutes as a pass would have to be excluded – situations such as a player picking up a ball cleanly after it has bounced after it was passed, or tapping a ball on to a team mate in a sweeping backline movement.
A ball coming into contact with the ground after being tapped back from a kick however, would constitute as a dropped ball under the new rule. This is currently one of my pet hates. A high kick that goes up holds no real reward for the defensive team when taken cleanly – unless the ball is caught in goal.
The offensive team on the other hand can often extend a single arm above their opponent’s attempted catch, to knock the ball backwards and then hope for a result from the ensuing lottery. I see no real skill in this action, and teams continually go to the air for a result when the defensive line proves difficult to breach. It’s messy, time consuming, and often leaves fans bewildered.
Personally I’d rather see a low scoring game, than a match with an inflated score line through iffy tries.
At the end of the day, I believe that a mistake is a mistake. Whether you drop the ball backwards, forwards, or sideways it should constitute as an error. That old cricket analogy could then apply to rugby league as well: Catches win matches.
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