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

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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138 Have your say

    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.

    The Socceroos' hopes of qualifying from the group stage at the World Cup are hanging by a thread after a 1-1 draw against Denmark. See how the match unfolded with our Australia vs Denmark match report, highlights and result.

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    The Crowd Says (138)

    • December 19th 2012 @ 7:21am
      Dogs of war said | December 19th 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      I think the ref making a decision on the field is great. You will see more tries being called back because the refs are back to calling the game as they see it.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • December 19th 2012 @ 8:42am
        soapit` said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        agree, doesnt necessarily mean they’ll point to the spot before going upstairs does it? they’ll just go to the reply and say i think its a try but check the grounding.

    • December 19th 2012 @ 7:40am
      Johnno said | December 19th 2012 @ 7:40am | ! Report


      -Captain’s challenge: triialled in Toyaota cup under 20’s is much better, 2 challenges each allowed by the captain,. Ref males a call if captain unhappy about try , he can appeal, 2 challenges for each team.

      -State of origin legibility. Sounds good , but could open up a pandora’s box. This thing of living in NSW/QLD before 13. Is there any time line, what if you are from NSW , your parents get a job in QLD for 1 month, and you can’t make the blues, but try your luck for QLD, when you only lived there for 1 month. It’s farcical, or is the time can it be 2 weeks, what if you move up there then your mum or dad quite there job, it becomes farcical a bit. i think there should be a timeline like say, you must of lived in NSW/ or QLD for 6 months before aged 13 , or something like that. with clear guidelines.

      -Rep Payments, glad it’s been increased for both origin, and test footy, .

      Shoulder charge agree with too.

      • December 19th 2012 @ 8:25am
        Jake said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        There not really ‘facts’ are they Johnno? More your opinion.

        Overall they are good changes, at least they are trying something.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 19th 2012 @ 7:43am
      John Vizzone said | December 19th 2012 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      The new rules with the referees is silly and amatuerish at best.

      It is akin to a Magistrate letting someone off but then launching an appeal themselves because there not sure.

      I totally agree Luke that the refs will be on a hiding to nothing.

      • December 19th 2012 @ 8:36am
        oikee said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Agree John, it is like nobody has really got a clue. You can maybe see what he is trying to do, but no good changing things if it only makes them worse. And this will be worse than not doing anything.
        The reason it works well in the NFL, the players know when to challenge a decision. They know if something has gone amiss, or someone has dropped the ball.
        Even our players, they always know if a ball has been bobbled, they look at the ref with a silly look on their face, pleading he dropped the ball. A reverse challenge could be good also. He might have stripped the ball, so the player with the ball can reverse challenge.

      • Roar Guru

        December 19th 2012 @ 10:57am
        Dogs Of War said | December 19th 2012 @ 10:57am | ! Report

        The refs are already on a hiding to nothing. This change just makes the refs call the game as they see it, which in my opinion will see them relying less of video refs to make the decision for them.

        It’s the most positive rule change we have ever seen.

        • December 19th 2012 @ 5:21pm
          oikee said | December 19th 2012 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

          ? Ok good. i will go along with you Dogs, so next year will be near perfect in your books. Mate i am rooting for you, i hope you are right and the Mrs gets a good workout. 🙂 boom

        • December 20th 2012 @ 6:36am
          Crosscoder said | December 20th 2012 @ 6:36am | ! Report

          Agree with your summation DOW.
          The rule change study was undertaken former players(thinkers within the game),eg w Bennett,John Lang refs boss, Daniel Anderson,and Fulton to name a few.

          The benefit of the doubt ruling was one of the biggest cop outs IMO in the game ,by a ref.We now have two refs.In the past one only,and he made decisions as to whether tries were scored and lived with it,even if it was a humdinger of a decision.

          The onus is back to the ref.The chances of the dumbest decision I have had the displeasure of seeing,the blatant forward motion of a ball by Manly ,that resulted in them scoring against the Cows,will now not be repeated.

          The notion he will be left out to dry,should he be over ruled,is no different now when he is left out to dry giving a humdinger.

          You become a referee because of the love of the game and the contribution you can make,and having a thick skin is a requirement, of being one. The day a ref becomes concerned about being criticised publicly.He may as well throw his whistle away.

          This rule change should have aways been there,instead of the feel good “benefit of the doubt”.

          Finally instead of the usual public öutrage”at any changes made in the game, I have one suggestion.Give it a go.

    • December 19th 2012 @ 8:07am
      B.A Sports said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      The Shoulder Charge rule is going to cause all sorts of problems. What commentators called shoulder charges last year were sometimes (as an example) missed timed tackles as a result of the ball carrier being at the denfece quicker than the tackler expected. I can see that being a problem.

      The removal of the B.O.D in the rules, as seperate from the referee having to make his decision before sending it to the Video Ref I think is excellent. Now the video ref simply has to decide, “Do I think it is a try or not?” As for the ref having to make a decision, I think it will be ok. The ruling on the field gets over turned in the NFL all the time by the video review. People just have to learn to live with it, especially if it means getting the right decision. What I would prefer would be for the onfield ref’s to review the footage and make the decision themselves rather than a third person in the grandstand who isn’t even good enough to be a referee in the first place.

      As for the Origin rules. They are better, but I still forsee problems. Like in a few years time when more Victorian kids start coming through and the Storm have on thier books a young 12 year old stud half, and (as an example) the QRL do a deal with the Storm to move his family to the Gold Coast for the summer and low and behold he becomes QLD eligible.

      • December 19th 2012 @ 8:19am
        oikee said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Queensland always finds a way. Northern NSW is all Queensland territory, new south wales just dont realise it because it is so far from Sydney.
        Sydney only cares about Sydney, Queensland owns the rest by the “duty of care” law. We care. 🙂

        • December 19th 2012 @ 8:45am
          soapit` said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          dont worry about northern nsw oikee. we’re proud to be part of the premier state. they might pull on qld rep jerseys in other sports for convenience but origin is different.

    • December 19th 2012 @ 8:11am
      oikee said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Luke, just on that Benifit of the doubt. You are spot on mate. All this can go away if we have the captain’s challenge in plce. The problem is we dont. Refs could make calls free of any worry by the fans or the players. If a player knows for sure that the opposition made a mistake, he could ask the captain to challenge. It makes sense but as ussual, rugby league is on the old dinosaur 3 year path before we change anything.

      So, the dinosaurs are still alive and well. Another thing i am looking forward to all year next year, the “benifit of the doubt” might be gone, but i cant wait for the Torso to come into play and then go to the video ref where he will be wondering if it touched his arms, hands or Torso. hahhaa. Enjoy. It will happen, a dogs breakfast. Until the Torso rule is disolved, nothing will change, there will always be doubt.

      Shoulder charge ,,, perfect, they did not over-react to such a minor issue. Charging with your shoulder is banned, which is the cause of most head knocks. ]

      Origin rule, good, if your 12 and live in that state you one of ours. Now where is Queensland again, ? Thats right we are in Victoria, we are in NZ, we are everywhere except Palmerson North, that is where Tamou is from. 🙂

      • December 19th 2012 @ 9:05am
        matt h said | December 19th 2012 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        The Captain’s challenge will come. They are triallling it for the whole 20/20 season this year to get a better idea of its worth compared to the one-off game last year

    • December 19th 2012 @ 8:45am
      Will Sinclair said | December 19th 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Love the changes to the Origin eligibility.

      It’s NSW v QLD, not some mish-mash All Stars / International contest.

      Great work.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 19th 2012 @ 2:56pm
        Damn Straight said | December 19th 2012 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

        Too right Will. State. Of. Origin. The name says it all. At least the farcical eligibility rules were overhauled to reflect that.
        Not sure about the mine field of interpretation that will open up with the shoulder charge amendments though…should be interesting to watch that play out.

      • December 20th 2012 @ 6:37am
        Crosscoder said | December 20th 2012 @ 6:37am | ! Report

        But what will the residents of Kempsey(a small Qld enclave within NSW) think of the changes made?

        • Roar Rookie

          December 20th 2012 @ 6:22pm
          Damn Straight said | December 20th 2012 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

          Who cares.

        • December 31st 2012 @ 7:46am
          Jaredsbro said | December 31st 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

          I’d love to visit that place, actually. It sounds like my kind of place 😉 But just on Origin, I think the real issue it faces is the fact that unlike all other All-Star concepts, it isn’t supposed to be an All-Star concept, so you can’t barrack for the team/state which represents your club, because many of the players cross the border for reasons of a) money b)chance of winning c)mateship d) any other reason under the sun.

          In the NFL, I support the NFC team because I support 3 NFC teams (Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals) to one AFC team (Cleveland Browns). But in Origin, I support NSW (!) actually mostly because NZ was once, for about a month of two part of NSW until Lieutenant Governor William Hobson was promoted to full Governorship. But it would mean more if you were only eligible if you could only play with clubmates.

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