National Rugby League To Trial Experimental Rules For Auckland Nines
The National Rugby League "will experiment with golden try as part of several rule changes for the Auckland Nines tournament in February," according to Michael Chammas of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. At the launch of the Nines rules in Auckland on Tuesday morning, the NRL announced that "it would replace golden point with a golden try period in the shortened format of the game, with five minutes of extra time to be played in the qualifying rounds, while there will be unlimited extra time in the finals." Video referees have also been scrapped for the Nines tournament on Feb.15-16 at Eden Park, "as well as the implementation of a five tackle rule and a bonus zone behind the posts for a five point try." The NRL will use the nine-a-side tournament, which has a A$2.6M ($2.4M) prize pool, "to trial a number of rule changes, including several adjustments to the speed of the play" (SMH, 12/3). In Sydney, David Riccio wrote concerns are over scheduling and the length of the NRL season. And which players will be made available for the Nines "remains the biggest question for organisers and fans." It is also a dilemma for coaches after confirmation from the NRL on Monday that "any act of foul play during the Nines will be analysed under the microscope of a match review committee." Carry-over points "will also carry over into the NRL season" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/3). The AAP reported NRL Football Operations Manager Nathan McGuirk said that "the game's governing body would keep a close eye on how it was received in the shorter format of the game." McGuirk said, "The fans want to see tries and that is what we want to see too. Obviously we will monitor all of these changes." The NRL "will trial a number of other innovations at the nines." Scrums "are only to be packed after a double infringement, with a handover ensuing instead" (AAP, 12/3). In Sydney, Chammas also wrote the NRL is yet to finalize its match review process for the inaugural tournament to be played at Eden Park on Feb.15 and 16, "but players who are charged or put on report could miss the start of the NRL season." While most clubs are reluctant to risk their star players being injured, "the news that suspension in the Nines tournament could carry over to the NRL may act as a deterrent for some clubs still deciding on the calibre of players they will send over for the tournament" (SMH, 12/3).