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SBD Global/January 27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Rugby League Announces Rule Changes To Cut Time-Wasting For '14 Season

The NRL's new rules for 2014 have been criticized in some circles.
The National Rugby League announced rule changes "with a strong focus on stamping out time-wasting" for the '14 season, according to the AAP. The changes "include structured times when a captain can speak to a referee during a match and stopping the clock during the last five minutes of a game following a conversion or penalty shot at goal." Changes have also been made "to deter crusher and cannonball tackles." Under the captain's rule, a skipper "can only talk to a referee during a stoppage in play and as players leave the field for the half-time break." But penalties and scrums "are not deemed to be considered breaks in play" (AAP, 1/25). In Sydney, Daniel Lane reported NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said that the changes were made "after consultations with the clubs, coaches, the competition committee and 11,000 NRL members and fans who responded to an online review." Greenberg conceded the changes to ''captain communication'' could raise some debate. Greenberg: ''People want to see football, they want to see the ball in play, and the decisions we've made complement that view. It's not taking away the opportunity for the captains to talk, but it certainly allows for the game to move on" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/26).

CHANGING THE GAME: Also in Sydney, Steve Mascord wrote the NRL is making the sport "increasingly different to the one played elsewhere in the world." In fact, the NRL "must be close to being, technically, the third code of rugby." Zero tackle from 20 meter restarts, taps from 40/20s, timeouts in the final five minutes of matches; "these things, along with golden-point time and dual referees, make the NRL very different to the games played on parks each weekend and in England, France and elsewhere." To people involved in the game in these areas, the most recent changes "smack of arrogance; of a belief that the NRL is rugby league and no one else matters" (SMH, 1/26).

SHARP THINKERS: Also in Sydney, James Hooper wrote the rule changes were "designed by some of rugby league's sharpest thinkers." The committee that helped devise the key changes comprised of super coach Wayne Bennett, premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson, independent commission member and former Balmain player Wayne Pearce, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens and retired stars Darren Lockyer and Andrew Ryan. Greenberg: "In previous years at the NRL we've made decisions pretty quickly but this has been five months in the process. We've worked really hard with the competition committee and with some of the most pre-eminent minds in the game to bring together some concepts and ideas in order to make the product itself better" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/26).
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