NRL threatens coaches flouting new rules


Graham Annesley

]

The new scrum rule introduced by the NRL to encourage more attacking football was abused so much by coaches during the preseason it forced the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley to threaten clubs with the reintroduction of goal kicks from scrum penalties.

During preseason trial matches coaches were encouraging the defence to breach at scrums more than ever in order to negate the attacking options.

When the NRL brought in the amended scrum rules, it held a meeting with coaches who admitted attack from scrums could be improved and agreed with a proposal to set scrums in three positions: 20 metres infield, the centre of the field and where the breach occurred.

Ninety percent of scrums during the preseason were moved to the centre of the field according to premiership winning coach and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Roy Masters. However, the legendary mentor pointed out how the biggest issue with the scrum was not where it was set but with defending players breaking too early.

"The coaches who attended the annual meeting clearly did not admit the main reason attack from scrums had died – back-rowers break too quickly and the non-feeding halfback does not remain immediately at the base of the scrum. Referees were not penalising these breaches," Masters wrote.

Graham Annesley

"So, when pre-season scrums were allowed to be set in the favourite position to attack, coaches instructed the defence to counter by breaking even faster than previously.

"Aware that the non-offending team can't kick at goal, coaches told the defence to breach, cognisant that the only advantage the attack could enjoy was to peadvance downfield the length of a penalty kick. Furthermore, the attack was no longer in its favourite mid-field position.

"However, a defending team, leading by two points, with only a minute left on the clock and on its own line, will be less inclined to breach if the attack is allowed to kick a goal and send a game to golden point."

Annesley hit out at coaches for the way they had strategically planned their way around the new rule, leaving officiators with no choice but make another change to the scrum rules and bring in penalty kicks if teams continued to flout them.

"During pre-season trial matches it has become clear that some clubs appear to have made a conscious decision to breach existing laws of the game in an attempt to negate the intention of the new rule regarding the lateral position of scrums.

"This new rule is an innovation from the Competition Committee, endorsed by the meeting of head coaches, designed to promote more uncertainty and open play directly from scrums.

"While it is not common practice to amend rules once the competition has commenced, should the current measures available prove insufficient disincentive in the opening rounds of the competition, the NRL may have no option but to take a recommendation to the Commission seeking approval to change differential penalties awarded for this offence to full penalties, thereby allowing teams to kick for goal should they elect to do so."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *