Tuesday, August 5, 2008

To David Gallop and the NRL,

It cannot be allowed to go on anymore. And no, this has nothing to do with Sonny Bill Williams. On one issue in the game, I find myself actually agreeing with Phil Gould; the NRL’s stripping rules need to be overhauled ASAP. The current interpretations of these rules are anyone’s guess. Having eight different referees and video referees every week with differing viewpoints on what a strip is, certainly can’t be helping. But that can’t be helped because of the rules themselves. It’s at the point where defenders are getting penalised by some of these video refs when they have accidentally knocked the ball out in the tackle. That is farcical. The policing of the stripping rules has disintegrated into a confusing mess for not just officials, but fans, players, and coaches. It’s a no-win situation when defending players are penalised if their hands are in contact with the ball at the moment when the opponent loses control, but if they don’t wrap up the ball, the attacking player can offload. Who came up with this ridiculous rule anyway? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It was unwelcome to start with and now the grey area keeps widening.

The simple solution is to abolish the current stripping laws and put the onus back on the attacking player in the tackle. There is no reason why players shouldn’t be allowed to rake the ball in the tackle whether there be one or five tacklers. In the ruck, i.e. after the tackle is completed, “held” is called, and when the player is in the act of playing the ball, then there could be a strict hands-off policy on the defenders. This would not only ease confusion for players and referees but it would help to clean up the ruck area. At a time when many are bemoaning the fact that teams are controlling the game by controlling the speed of the ruck, surely a hands-off rule when the ball carrier is playing it will alleviate some of the problems. Teams would still need wrestling coaches unfortunately as the time a defender is allowed in the tackle is dependent upon whether the tackle is “dominant” or a “surrender”. The time allowed by these calls should not be permitted to extend after the “held” call as happens at present. In the tackle, it’s game on. The tackled player must protect the football and the defenders are given the appropriate amount of time to work the tackled player. When “held” is called, all hands, feet, and torsos need to be out of the play the ball area immediately (I’m pretty sure that was the original intention of the “held” call). This would also see an end to the overly harsh penalties against players not getting to their feet properly to play the ball when they have a defender all over them.

The lawmakers of the NRL need to bite the bullet on this for the betterment of Rugby League in this country, or if for nothing else, then for common sense.

Yours sincerely,

NRL Fans Against Stupid Stripping Rules (NRLFASSR) throughout Australia.


SportingMind said...

I agree, and would like to indeed join the group "NRLFASSR". Its just ridiculous how even when referred to the video-ref, the decision is still the incorrect one (particularly when the raiders are playing). If there are two men involved in the immediate tackle then sure, fair enough - blow a penalty. But when a player has the ball stripped by one player - even if there was a previous attempted tackle, this should be deemed legitimate.

Thanks for getting me fired up on a Tuesday arvo at work, i needed it.

Captain Carnage said...

Welcome to NRLFASSR Sportingmind! We will prevail! I believe the stripping rules should never have been brought in to start with and should now be done away with forever. There is just too much grey area with such ambiguous rules. Some of the decisions are comical in one sense but in another way it's just tragic how far the NRL has let this shit go. If you go back and watch old footage, it's not like there was hundreds of attempts at strips in those games because players carrying the ball knew they had to protect it and possibly fight for it. And it just does my head in that the refs call held and then the defenders still have 3 or 4 seconds to get off the player. The tackle and the play the ball should be considered separate entities; the extra time afforded to the tackler in a dominant tackle should be in the tackle only.