NRL or National Wrestling League?

Hossey Roar Guru

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    I don’t even know why they still have tackle counts when nobody tackles anymore. A ‘grapple count’ would be much more suitable, given the fact wrestling appears to be not only the games present, but the game’s future.

    Rather than bemoan Chris Sandow’s missed tackle count, Phil Gould and co. can much more accurately discuss his effective wrestle rate, total grapple time per wrestle and average catch count.

    My recent article on Craig Bellamy mentioned his introduction of the wrestle and the way the rest of the competition has followed suit.

    Just about every fan and commentator of the game recognises it as one of the most negative aspects of the competition, yet few offer suggestions on how to stop it.

    And you know why? Because we can’t stop it. It’s just too effective. When a system works so well, no team is ever going to stop using it just for the sake of entertainment.

    Rugby league clubs are in the winning business (well, all of them except Parramatta) not just the entertainment business and losing games but gaining kudos is not a viable business model.

    However, I feel all hope is not lost. We can’t stop clubs from utilising grapple tactics to slow the play the ball, but we can discourage it.

    The games rules need to change to promote one-on-one tackles to combat the wrestle, especially low ones.

    When I was learning the game one was taught the best place to tackle was down low. Now, classic rugby league tackles such as these are punished with a quick play the ball.

    They should be rewarded instead. Every time a player cuts down an opposition player one-on-one below the waist, the defence should be allowed to be ‘set’, to the referees discretion.

    So if a player cuts down his opposition one-on-one with a great low tackle, he is allowed the time to get to his position at marker and all his team mates be ready for the next tackle before his opponent can play the ball, assuming they are in a position to be onside within a reasonable amount of time (I’d say 3-4 seconds depending on situation could be a reasonable time).

    Instead of the defence being on the backfoot after a low tackle, they are ready for the next play.

    This isn’t the same as a dominant tackle call, although it could work as an extension of it, which doesn’t even seem to get used anyway.

    It isn’t just about winning the tackle immediately on impact as the dominant tackle rule is defined; it’s about rewarding any defender who is willing to make a solo tackle, be it bringing a player down from around the ankles or driving in with the shoulder at waist-height.

    This ‘set’ call won’t stop the wrestle, but it encourages players to back themselves to make a one-on-one low tackle, as they know it will be just as good if not better than a well-executed four-man grapple.

    Due to this, it also encourages more attacking play from the team with the ball in hand – more one-on-one situations create more opportunities to break tackles and more opportunities to offload the ball.

    So that’s one of my ideas to start to try and weaken the dominance of the wrestle, what’s yours? Share it in the comments below if you think you’ve got some solutions that can top mine.

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    The Crowd Says (49)

    • Roar Rookie

      August 9th 2013 @ 2:57am
      Jack Tiger said | August 9th 2013 @ 2:57am | ! Report

      Good article Pat, I wasn’t a fan of your previous article glorifing Bellamy and the Storm cheats. However it seems you may have seen the light and realised that melbourne storm are responsible for the National Wrestling League that we have now. As for ideas to fix the problem, I’ve got nothing. NRL fans are voting with feet and their TV remotes, hopfully someone in power will realise this and do something about it.

      For everyone else, yes I do hate melbourne storm (not Manly anymore, at least their honest). Yes, I do blame them for introducing the wrestle and ruining the once great game of Rugby League. And Yes, I will never forgive them for cheating for 5 years and tarnishing our great game forever ( * on the trophy, what a joke). If you feel the need to defend the melbourne storm, bring it on! You are only doing it because you know that I’m right.

      • August 9th 2013 @ 4:05am
        des' right hand said | August 9th 2013 @ 4:05am | ! Report

        Only the cheaters fans will defend them because they must 🙂 can’t wait for the manly vs Melbourne game at brookie the big 40 nil sign will come out as it has for the last few years

        • August 9th 2013 @ 8:18am
          Andrew said | August 9th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          To assume it is Melbourne only or even partially is wrong.

        • August 9th 2013 @ 11:42am
          stormtrooper4 said | August 9th 2013 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          Melbourne storm has beaten Manly more by scoring 40 on them than manly has, last year’s semi-final?

          • August 9th 2013 @ 11:45am
            liatrevlis said | August 9th 2013 @ 11:45am | ! Report

            The point is Melb scored ZERO ,,,,,,,

            • August 9th 2013 @ 5:21pm
              Andy said | August 9th 2013 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

              Nothing like beating a bunch of cheats in the grandfinal 40-0.

          • August 9th 2013 @ 5:11pm
            des' right hand said | August 9th 2013 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

            Oh you got me there buddy except for starters it wasn’t a grand final secondly manly made so many errors any team would of won that game thirdly we didn’t cheat the salary cap by 1.3 million dollars and lastly no one will remember the semi finals matey only the grandfinal matters 40-0 against a cheating team in a grand final that’s history book status mate biggest winning margin in a grandfinal EVER! So… Next!

      • August 9th 2013 @ 8:58am
        Qlder said | August 9th 2013 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        What a pest you are Tiger Jack. Thanks for offering some solutions or credible comments. If Melbourne didn’t start the wrestling then someone else would of. It isnt terribly hard to figure out that slowing the play the ball down means defences can get set. I am not a supporter of the Storm but sick of you trudging up the past to feel better about yourself by knocking others. We get it, Melbourne were caught. I am sure others were guilty as well. You are downright boring.

        • August 9th 2013 @ 5:23pm
          des' right hand said | August 9th 2013 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

          Were is your solution buddy? All you’ve done is knock some one who was knocking someone else you one confussed boy. And as a qlder I hope you enjoy watching the finals series this year minus ANY qld teams. Manly 2013! Solution bring back the biff

    • August 9th 2013 @ 7:07am
      Tim said | August 9th 2013 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      Easy to fix, ref calls held as soon as a players forward movement is stopped, the defence will soon start tackling again because that will be the slower play.

    • August 9th 2013 @ 7:30am
      liatrevlis said | August 9th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      It’s a result of the way the games played, “the wrestle” has always been part of this great game , players are now looking outside the box to gain an advantage , if your clubs been slow off the mark to adopt these techniques then blame ya coach, as long as blokes arnt head locking each other then I don’t have a problem besides how are you going to police it? Another can of worms because it will be down to interpretation and guess what , interpretations of the rules have cost clubs games this year , ensure the welfare of the players is your no 1 priority and let the game evolve , your alternative is Oz tag or touch ,

      • August 9th 2013 @ 10:44am
        Shrek said | August 9th 2013 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        I disagree the wrestle has always been part of the game. 10 years ago, it was known as “holding down” – but I don’t put this in the same bucket as wrestling. Wrestling is deliberately trying to hold a player upright and stop him going to ground.

        My solution – if an attacker isn’t taken to ground, the tacklers are all deemed offside until they retreat to the 10 (i.e. no markers are allowed unless the attacking player is actually taken to ground).

        This incentivises the attacking team to stay on their feet and drive forward, and the defensive team to get the ball runners to ground as fast as possible.

        If that could then be tied into a “dominant” call for a one-on-one around the legs tackle, all the better.

        • August 9th 2013 @ 11:18am
          maximillian said | August 9th 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          As Oikee has said on other threads, for every action there is a reaction when it comes to changing the laws. Your idea will fix the wrestle but by removing the markers you create more space at the play the ball area & that will just lead to more dummy half running. The fans will stop complaining about the wrestle, but will be upset about the boring constant dummy half running on attack.

          I think wrestling will always be part of the modern game but agree with the law changes in the article. We need to encourage teams to tackle around the legs more because under the current laws, it actually disadvantages your team to do so.

          • August 9th 2013 @ 11:44am
            Shrek said | August 9th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

            That’s true Maximillian, but for exactly that reason I think that this rule hugely incentivises defending teams to take the attacking player to ground as quickly as possible as this would be the only way to allow markers to set.

            I think the issue at the moment is that both attacking and defensive players are happy to try to stay on the feet – the former so they can get an offload away and the latter to try to delay the play the ball.

            You’re right that if the attacking player can stay on their feet they would then get an enormous advantage and yes dummy half running would result, but I think that advantage attacking teams would receive should ensure that defensive teams would put 100% of effort into taking the attacking player to ground as quickly and efficiently as possible, not risking a no marker situation – which is (I think) exactly what everyone wants to see.

          • August 9th 2013 @ 11:49am
            Shrek said | August 9th 2013 @ 11:49am | ! Report

            To add a little to that – I think this rule would make every tackle a contest where the attacking player tries to stay on their feet and drive forward and every defensive player works as hard as possible to drive the attacking player backwards and to the ground as quickly as possible – which I think should actually make for pretty interesting tackle contests in pretty much every situation.

            • August 9th 2013 @ 12:27pm
              maximillian said | August 9th 2013 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

              Yea fair points about the contests but again I ask, what is the reaction to the contests? If the defenders want to get a tackler to ground that is desperate to stay on his feet the best way to do this IMO is by employing the cannonball tackle. The 1st tacklers try to get the attacker to ground but if it doesn’t happen the 2nd or 3rd comes in & attacks the legs to put him down. This is incredibly dangerous & can cause serious injury but would be the best way for the defence to get the outcome they need at the tackle area. We would have potentially fixed the wrestle, but created a new problem with the cannonball.

              • August 9th 2013 @ 1:33pm
                Shrek said | August 9th 2013 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                That’s a fair point – hadn’t actually thought of the cannonball. I agree its dangerous type of tackle but in my view is that’s easier to police than a grapple.

                To be honest, though, I don’t actually think the grapple is the real issue. The grapple is really just a symptom of the fact that there’s no real reason a defensive team would try to take a player to ground quickly.

                I’d still love to at least see the above given a trial – you may be right that there’s a perverse reaction (something which neither of us have though of) but I think the key to fixing the grapple is to ensure that defenders are properly incentivised to take a player to ground as quickly as possible and / or strongly disincentivised from trying to hold an attacking player upright – which I think this does.

    • August 9th 2013 @ 7:43am
      Eden said | August 9th 2013 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      I would say the simplest option is for the referee to call held sooner, preferably before that extra push and spin that lands the player on their back facing the wrong way. May be less offloads, but the late pop the ball out the back at the last minute offload is encouraging the trend of catapulting shoulders into vulnerable knees

      • August 9th 2013 @ 7:46am
        liatrevlis said | August 9th 2013 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        That hinders the attacker , what if the blokes carrying defenders but still making meters? Again a can of worms because its the interpretation that kills everything !!

    • August 9th 2013 @ 8:35am
      turbodewd said | August 9th 2013 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Pat, what exactly is the problem with tackling at the moment?!

      Ratings seem unaffected.

      Crowds are down, but this is due to the unusual jump in ticket prices this year.

      My only issue is if ball-carriers get contorted by ‘chicken wings’ and similar actions, I dont want to see anyone injured.

      The penalty still exists to tacker(s) slowing down the play the ball.

      Virtually a non-issue to me…

      • August 9th 2013 @ 11:28am
        astro said | August 9th 2013 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        Yeah, I tend to agree.

        Haven’t tacklers been aiming to slow down the play of the ball, and those with the ball aiming for a quick play of the ball, for ages? What’s wrong with that?

        And tackling low is great and all, but off-loads tend to be a problem in league if they aren’t stopped!

    • August 9th 2013 @ 8:36am
      Alvin Purple said | August 9th 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      I agree with Eden. The rule is that a player must be released immediately. If this rule was inforced then the play the ball would be quicker. Third person coming in after the player has been effectively stopped should be outlawed and this would also help

      • August 9th 2013 @ 10:29am
        V.O.R. said | August 9th 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        Yer, they policed third man in for a while and now have appeared to go slack on it. Then there is the Fifita flop. Definitely slowing things down further. What about a simple rule that says tackled players cannot be manipulated at all once on the deck….and no tackles allowed on the legs of an already stationary player?

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