ARLC signs off with a bang for 2012 with host of rule improvements

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By , Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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    The Independent Commission appears to be ousting John Grant. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    If the Australian Rugby League Commission was looking to show the detractors they’d been far from idle in their first season in charge of the game then they certainly made their point yesterday.

    Far from the traditional “significant announcement” news conferences often held to herald the arrival of little, the ARLC simply sent out a media release late yesterday evening outlining changes to three issues that frustrated fans during 2012.

    Whether they’ve tinkered with the right elements is debatable, but regardless, cogs are turning at headquarters.

    Benefit of the doubt rule:
    From next season the controlling referee will have to make a decision before he is able to ask the video referee for assistance. The man in the box can only change the original decision if there’s sufficient evidence the referee has made the wrong call.

    Talk about making the whistle blowers an even bigger target.

    Picture the scene. A team scores a try, the referee points to the spot and as the celebrations erupt he decides to send it upstairs for another look.

    So, you have an official who is forced to doubt a decision that he made just seconds earlier.

    Mayhem will erupt if the words “no try” flash up on the big screen.

    The referee shouldn’t have to make a decision before asking for assistance.

    He’s on a hiding to nothing.

    If he awards a try, has it checked and then gets it wrong, then he looks ridiculous.

    If he awards a try, has it checked and then gets it right, it looks like he doubts his own judgement.

    It’s rugby league’s version of the cricket umpire who gives a batsman out, but then checks for the no-ball.

    Another element needs to be added to the equation.

    In 2013, the captain’s challenge system will be used in each televised under-20s match.

    If successful, it needs to be introduced into the NRL in time for the 2014 season.

    The referee would then be free to award a try or no try and the teams would then be responsible for asking for a video replay after a decision is made.

    It should not fall at the feet of the man who made the decision to see whether he was correct.

    Shoulder charge:
    Next season, the shoulder charge as we know it is dead.

    Players must now make a genuine attempt to use their arms to wrap up the ball runner.

    If a defender uses his shoulder, even if contact is made below the head, punishment ranges from a penalty to an eight-week ban.

    Yes, the ARLC has a duty of care to the players, but has this gone too far?

    The research coming out of America regarding the effects of concussion on NFL players is frightening, but rugby league is a game that has always punished players who make contact with the head.

    Towards the end of last season players were being referred straight to the judiciary if a shoulder charge went wrong.

    If the punishments were larger once they got there then the tackle would’ve, more than likely, been rendered obsolete.

    Who is going to risk a five or six match ban for a shoulder charge when a conventional tackle will keep you on the park?

    Now, even if a player’s shoulder connects with the sternum of an attacker, he’ll be penalised.

    The biggest concern is that this new rule is so open to interpretation.

    What some see as a genuine attempt to tackle others will see as using the shoulder.

    It will be interesting to see how long it takes for this issue to blow up in 2013.

    State of Origin eligibility:
    No player will be able to play for NSW or Queensland if they haven’t lived in that state before the age of 13.

    The only exception is if they’re the son of an Origin player. They must also be eligible to play for Australia.

    That would’ve stopped Greg Inglis and Israel Folau turning out for the Maroons.

    Blues fans can only take comfort in the fact that history won’t repeat.

    Some would prefer your place of birth or “origin” to be the deciding factor but that would’ve been too strict.

    International eligibility forms could still be a problem.

    The choice of which country a player would like to represent should be made the moment they first make a representative side.

    Players flimsy allegiances do very little to promote the international game.

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