While there is a general consensus that the six-again rule brought in this season has opened the game up, the rule needs adjustment to ensure it provides the side in possession with an actual advantage and doesn’t become a tool that allows defending sides time to reset their lines.
I’m a Peter V’landys fan. He gets shit done. While all the other sporting codes in Australia are seemingly fumbling around in the darkness trying to run anything they can pass off as a valid competition, the NRL resumed on 28 May and it is the real deal.
People are talking about this year having an asterisk against it. However, in my opinion, that asterisk will be to denote that this season was one of huge challenge and the side that prevailed in October overcame major adversity to lift the Provan-Summons Trophy.
And the reason we have a competition running at all is because V’landys’ determination. Kudos to you, El Supremo.
However, the six-again rule change he brought in now needs to be tweaked.
The rule was brought in to stop sides getting the benefit of resetting their defensive lines by giving away penalties when under the pump. That is a really good idea indeed.
However, the call has implications that can actually help the defensive side, not the attackers. And you can be sure that sides have started to exploit those issues.
When Canberra were attacking the Storm’s try line with 15 seconds to go of the first half of their Round 9 match, receiving a six-again call was of no assistance to them, nor a punishment for Melbourne. There was no time for a full set.
A penalty kick at goal would have been a great option. It was one they weren’t given nor able to elect.
For a team down by two points – or drawing with their opponents – in the dying minutes of a game, receiving a penalty with the option of a shot at goal is a far better option than getting six again. Yet it isn’t readily available, although an offence has been committed against them.
When a side is returning a field position kick and the chasers deliberately interfere with the tackled player to give their defensive line time to get in position, how is getting six again any benefit that early in the tackle count? Surely a penalty being awarded to the attacking side – with them then having the ability to make ground with a kick for the sideline – is a far better punishment to be meted out to those impinging.
In all of those cases, the six-again calls are of little benefit to the attacking sides and could be argued strongly to benefit the defenders.
The good news is that this can all be fixed with two simple tweaks.
Firstly, at any stage that six again is given to an attacking side, they can choose to receive a penalty instead and take a kick for the line, for goal or take a quick tap.
Secondly, when the infraction is in the first two tackles of the set when a side is trying to get out of their own half, then the referee should always award a penalty instead of six again. Should the side with the ball choose to, they can always take a quick tap anyway.
These adjustments will take away any advantage the great six-again innovation might give the defending side.
And as Peter V’landys is an innovator and a man with uncommon common-sense in the world of rugby league, you can bet he’ll make those tweaks very soon.