Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Former Balmain Tiger and Australian Rugby League Commissioner Wayne Pearce has revealed a potential rule change that he is set to put forth to the NRL, that he is looking to have implemented in the potential dead rubber match between the Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in round 25.
The potential rule change would see play restart with a seven tackle set if a ball goes into touch in some instances.
Pearce recently outlined the idea to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“At the moment, when a ball gets kicked into touch, there’s a turnover and the team can have it in the middle of the field or wherever they want to have it,” said Pearce.
“My view is that there’s a difference between a player running into touch – whether it be trying to score a try or whatever – and a player deliberately kicking into touch to slow the play down.
“That then becomes consistent if you kick the ball dead-in-goal. So rather than dead-in-goal, the whole perimeter of the field – if the ball gets kicked out of bounds – then there’s a seven-tackle restart. It disincentivises some of the teams from kicking into touch and trying to get a slow restart.”
Please just leave our game alone. The tension, grind, pressure & game management almost already gone. Would love the commission for less gimmicking with the rules & more focus on bigger picture strategy
— Christian Welch (@clwelch94) August 26, 2021
“Effectively, it’s like the 20-metre tap restart [for kicks that go beyond the in-goal] – teams hate that because the extra tackle means a significant difference to where the play will end up on the last tackle.”
So far the suggested rule change has not been popular amongst fans, and players alike as Queensland State of Origin representative and premiership winner Christian Welch has taken to Twitter to express his disdain for the seemingly constant rule changes.
Rugby League author and Brasil Rugby League football manager Robert Burgin responded to Welch, backing the argument he has put forth.
“The often forgotten issue is how it complicates development in Emerging Nations,” said Burgin via his Twitter.
“They see an NRL product on TV different to lower tiers, then every junior grade has different rules.
“We should attract new people, not confuse them.”
It is important to note that this rule change is just an idea being put forth by Pearce at the moment, and the backlash he has received for suggesting it may sway the NRL towards not implementing it, at least not this season.