The Roar
The Roar

Spencer Kassimir

Roar Pro

Joined November 2016







@BallsOutPhD - Chief Representative Australasia at Sportsbeams (lighting the Super Bowl), sports consultant, PhD researcher, and writer. Tread lightly but dive in head first.



The changing of points is very consistent with other football codes but each has its own subtleties that dictate the breakdown of values. Lest we forget how originally, a try only awarded you an attempt to score a goal and, even when a try was given a point value, it was less than a goal. This isn’t just in RL but American gridiron, Canadian gridiron, and RU etc.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Well, there’s a reason you’re a Roar Guru and that knowledge is probably part of the reason you’d not have perceived someone’s calls being overturned that way.

More importantly, enjoy Origin!

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Interesting comments Tiger. 1. First name basis is viewed as a way of de-escalating confrontational situations. It may be right or wrong depending on culture and context.

2. I can’t comment on all refs but a standard training taught has one setting the line at 10m and moving up with the line on ‘go.’

Re six again, as a viewer, I’d like to be able to see the reason the call was made beyond the arm wave for ‘six again’ but these guys are moving so quickly and I do appreciate the need to balance focus on getting the call right with communicating the information properly (hence the article).

Re penalty inside 20m, I think that would be interesting to hear from players and coaches about. Momentum for six again and a chance at a 4+2 try inside of 20 is extremely valuable and arguably more so than a 2pt penalty goal.. I think they’ll leave it as is for that reason alone but only the coaches and players would have the real insight.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Yes, they are fully qualified but if the logic in language is to allow for their calls to be overturned, it makes them look unqualified to viewers.

If you want all of the power to go to the on field referee, the go with the rugby union model where the bunker only serves the purpose of providing the best camera angles for the on-field referee to review for all to see.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

I would agree Tim, that the four tackle rule was not brought in to stop the Saints.
Secretary Bill Fallowfield of the RFL looked to the American gridiron as a way to stop what was known as the “creeping barrage,” which is essentially the same as the infinite number of potential phases in today’s rugby union.
From my research, I believe there is good cause to understand four tackles as being a close approximation or miscalculation since it only provides three play the balls (and not four like American gridiron). It is interesting to note that American football did have three downs until a fourth down was brought in in 1912. Three down football is still the standard for Canada’s CFL. In a similar instance, based on my research, it is also reasonable to believe that the origin of three downs may have been based on a similar miscalculation when looking to baseball’s three strikes. It is possible but there is always the chance we are missing something through time and culture since punting for territory before the final down was more commonplace in those days and this would mean that it was not a miscalculation in origin but rather the game changed around the rules (as usually happens in football codes). History is a funny thing since we can’t ever truly put ourselves in the world view of those we are trying to understand.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Fair shake, though that wasn’t the focus of the article. I’d caution thought that this perspective puts an over emphasis on the value of kicking for goal. Teams tend to prefer to maintain moment and a greater opportunity at 4+2.

Likewise, talking about the 1966 introduction of the four-tackle rule is a bit out of context when considering but not limited to the nature of a contested scrum and a short 5-yard retreat/ruck rule which had increased from 3-yards in the previous year.

No, we can kick a field goal or a punt on any down in all of the outdoor gridiron codes whether NFL, NCAA, High School, CFL etc. The only reason I wrote outdoor was an * to arena games that don’t allow punting at all.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Thank you Spruce Goose.
I grew up in the US having watched rugby league, rugby union, Aussie rules, and even Gaelic football since first coming across them on late-night cable television as a young teenager (will refrain from saying how long ago that was).
Long before coming to Aus, I also played union at uni but have also since done quite a bit of work and formal research into rugby league. As you know RL opportunities are extremely slim in the US (and just became slimmer in North America with SL deciding not to allow Toronto back).
I highly recommend Tony Collins’ podcast (Rugby Reloaded ep. 53 if not mistaken) where, in one show, he listed all of the things RU has borrowed/learned from/stolen (matter of interpretation) from RL for perspective. (Self-plug: I talk RL in North America in episode 27 and return in episode 60 to discuss the NSWRL/AFL attempted merger of 1914 and 1933.)
The short of it is, yes, the RU review model you describe below is an effective model but whether or not RL will ever take it for cultural reasons is another story.
PS I do post my work and research for those that are interested on Twitter and Instagram @BallsOutPhd

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Yes, giving on-field referees the ability to watch the film while directing the bunker what to play would be a strong option as it provides the decision making to stay with the referee while allowing the audience to simultaneously view the footage. This is essentially what rugby union does.

Regarding interpretations, these do and will always exist in every sport. The different between a strip in a multiple-tackler ruck vs lost ball at times will come down to perception since one can never truly know another’s intent.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Hi Nat,

Absolutely wrote this from a neutral point of view though, to be fair, it’s not without years of research. (Do check out if you’re interested in “deep track” research into rugby league).

I think the challenge system in open play is quite good but where it is scoring play, think the referee should just make the call or should be reworded when speaking toward the bunker to provide confidence in competency whilst making the correct call.

Spruce Moose (below) gives a great example of rugby union’s model, which, as mentioned, is a fantastic way to put full control in the on-field referee and limiting the role of the bunker to simply zooming in and providing the tools for the aforementioned referee to make the final decision.

Regarding stats, has everything you could imagine.

NRL refs are trading trust for correct calls

Hey Tim, good talking about this a bit last night on Twitter and, though the ops manual says this, the result would have been more in alignment with what most would agree should have happened, Canberra’s ball.

However, because the laws of Mutual Infringement are based around an archaic concept where field position is prioritized over ball possession (still in Rugby Union but long dead in Rugby League), the situation was exacerbated. The referee’s job is to enforce the laws of the game and the ops manual exists well outside of this scope where it is not and should not be their responsibility.


The NRL knew the risks for years about on-field trainers and did nothing

Great idea! Why didn’t we try this 150 years ago when the football games were being codified?

Except, we did.


If you think there are holdups to get the call right now, the ‘debates’ of yesteryear would make today’s look like microseconds.

Be serious.

Ugh… may have to write an article about why this is a bad idea.

Two simple ways to solve the NRL’s creeping penalty trend

This has been an interesting series on the pitch but off the pitch too.

It would be interesting to know how Kohli going vegan around six months ago has been a factor in his cricketing. The cases I know of in contemporary sports athletes switching to plant protein are with a quarter of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL and Leeds Rhinos prop Anthony Mullally in Super League have all been in contact sports though the overarching theme has been decreased recovery time amongst other factors.

Kohli and Rahane stall Australia

I’m assuming all of these questions are rhetorical and/or for dramatic effect so just reread what I wrote.

You don’t have to like how the short form impacts the style of game you enjoy.

As such, T20 does all the things you “asked” about in a shorter format that encourages more high-risk swings at the ball and more high speed/effortsome bowls since it will be done with only twenty overs…

If you don’t like change, go play four balls per over cricket and keep score on a stick as the “real” traditionalists did in the 1700s…

Limited overs: The single-use plastic bag of cricket

@Dane I really did enjoy the article so thank you for putting it out there.

There is nothing wrong with T20. It’s closer to baseball in terms of the respective value of runs to outs. As such, due to the 120 bowls (Baseball has around 146 pitches), it employs a “use it or lose it” ultimatum in the batting tactics that encourage more higher risk big swings in a short period of time instead of the test or 50/50 style where “defensive attrition” aka wearing down the bowler is critical.

We could always go back to five balls in an over unless you prefer the pre-1889 model of only four and, while we’re at it, only give sixes when the ball is hit over the stands and award “fivers” when the ball was hit over the boundary on the full.

PS You played indoor cricket but still wrote this!? Hmpf…

@BallsOutPhD (Twitter/Insta)

Limited overs: The single-use plastic bag of cricket

Watching Toronto has been fantastic but let’s not forget the flipside. Promotion/Relegation is a system where a lot of damage can also be caused to even the most established clubs.

For example, when a team like Bradford slides from SL to Championship and lands in League1 and then stays there out of the top comp… A lot of value is lost (supporter, financial, and/or other), which turns the odds against the team being able to field players with the capability of making it back.

Now imagine as if this were your club. Not a perfect analogy but will you be like South Sydney that came back, founding clubs like Newtown or North Sydney that still have fans in NSWRL, a state club team that few supporters follow, or one of the many others that have become a faint memory of the past?

@TheCheeseCo – Thank you for writing this as these are the types of conversations we should be discussing and analyzing.

An alternative to the NRL expansion

Hey Andrew,

Great to have a Roar Guru writing on college football.

Frankly, it’s the better game to watch for most Australian given the day/time differences.

Enjoyed the read and keep it up.

College football 2018: Week 6 heroes and villains

I can’t say I agree with anything your wrote but am glad some people are having a shot.

What’s most important is that the reasons for any changes are clearly spelled out as part of a well defined greater picture.

For me, the goal is to provide the most entertaining product to view while respecting the game’s history and culture but this must be done with participation at all levels as a priority.

1. A five point try (RU) or even six (NFL) are all well and good but to what goal? I personally find no issue with four points and two for the goal since it blends two aspects of the game that are different but get people out of their seats and at the edge of their seats respectively.

2. There is nothing wrong with a 1 point field goal. The problem is that RL has a 10 meter retreat and markers must be squared, which makes is very difficult to block compared to other codes that line up head to head with their opposition. However, moving the goalposts with over the deadball line would assuage this by reducing the distance between the defending line and ruck within 10 meters of the goal line and increasing the kicking distance by six to 12 meters depending on the ground (eight for NRL).

3. The ball should go to the defending team though I’m not convinced a seven tackle set is justified.

4. Actually, I think you may be onto something here. If players want to play a sloppy game and, as in your example, milk penalties, then let the ball stay live and have a sloppy game. Judging purely by position and actions, as we can’t know intent, both players were not doing the normally done thing so why force a referee to try and interpret intent.

If anyone is interested in this and/or other thing related, I high recommend you join me at the Tom Brock Lecture for rugby league research this Wednesday at 99 York in Sydney. It is overbooked but you still may be able to get a last minute spot. It features Brian Canavan, Roy Masters, and Tracey Holmes with Terry Williams moderating.

Full disclosure, I am the 2018 Tom Brock Scholar so, of course, I would love to see everyone there.


Four rule changes for rugby league

Very curious as to how many in the tv/media audience were watching out of the potential 60mm.

England vs New Zealand: International rugby league live scores, blog

Agreed. Still, any ground looks empty when proportions are taken into consideration. Assuming the crowd number remained, I can’t help but think how good it would have looked at the LA Chargers (NFL)/LA Galaxy (MLS) home ground.

England vs New Zealand: International rugby league live scores, blog

Love to see the thinking side of the game being discussed.??

KNOW YOUR LAWS: An onside offside?

I really am just so excited for this. Nothing important to say here but yeah… couldn’t be happier to be hosting the boys from Ireland.

Ireland's tour of Australia 2018: Young bloods on the track

Maybe it’s just me but I have found the game to be so much better in recent years compared to the old series of grapple tackle,
slow down the ruck, first receiver hit up, rinse lather repeat ad nauseum.

No, there has been no earth shattering shift in tactics but things have definitely moved the needle in the right direction.

I would watch if the Walker brothers got an NRL gig whether they won right away or not. Unfortunately, we no longer live at a time where a coach is given very much time to create/change a culture and system before being fired for failure to win immediately.

Six interchanges: The big pigs are to go the way of the dinosaurs

Historically, unlike the contemporary play-the-ball and line of scrimmage in the gridiron, the scrum being awarded to a team didn’t give true possession of the ball but advantage in the contest over the ball.

In that sense, Mushi, I see what you mean but wouldn’t phrase it as such.

As things would have it, I will be discussing this in the Tom Brock Lecture next month on the 14th in Sydney as changing from a contested scrimmage/scrimmage to uncontested had consistently changed the physiology of players.


Six interchanges: The big pigs are to go the way of the dinosaurs

Glad you clarified nearly. We can’t have party fouls!

Six interchanges: The big pigs are to go the way of the dinosaurs

Love reading your articles Tim.

I think we should delve back a bit further for some more perspective.

The beginning of the end of the “big men” started when the scrum ceased to be contested because there was no longer a need for body types as large or as specialized for the position. Unlike rugby union where the forward pack would still have to protect the ball on the ground and go up for lineouts, this is not the case for league so the drop off in size was seen quickly and noticeably.

Reducing interchanges DOES mean that cardio levels must go up and, inevitably, body weight does drop so I see what you’re getting at.

However, who isn’t to say that you can leave a big man on the field for longer segments of time but not utilize him as much thereby allowing him to keep the girth for a few good hit-ups?

Six interchanges: The big pigs are to go the way of the dinosaurs