The Daily Telegraph’s sports editor-at-large Phil Rothfield has proposed six rule changes that would help the game safer due to the latest concussion problems to hit the sport.
With concussion now a genuine problem in rugby league, Rothfield believes the game needs to adapt and become safer for players, and protect them from suffering injuries that could last a lifetime.
Rothfield hopes the NRL will be firing on all cylinders in 20 years time, but can’t guarantee the game won’t die due to “the very real threat of concussion litigation.”
With that in mind, here are Rothfield’s six rule changes for rugby league.
Change kick-off restarts
“We all love the gladiatorial element of the game. We love that first hit-up on Origin night,” Rothfield writes.
“But for head injuries, it’s probably the most dangerous play in the game.
“The introduction of a 25m line for kick restarts would be an option. We’d have shorter kick-offs and a contest for possession that would give the game more unpredictability.”
Removing one position (the lock forward, according to Rothfield), would create more open space, increase fatigue as well as slightly softening the impact in tackles.
Tackle below the armpits
“A black line is stitched onto jerseys to make it clearer for defenders.
“Anyone who goes above the black line is penalised or the attacking team gets a tackle-count restart.
“We’d still get the big hits and the big contact but a reduction in head injuries.”
Limit of two per tackle
This one is a fan favourite of Steve “Blocker” Roach, who believes it’s not necessary to have more than two men in a tackle.
“The third man in diving at the legs can cause a lot of angst,” Roach said.
“Two in a tackle should be enough. It would also promote the use of the football and more offloads.
“Front-rowers these days just eat metres and play the ball as quick as they can.
“That’s not skilful and doesn’t bring people to the game. We need more ball-playing forwards like Jake Trbojevic.”
Reduce the 10m rule
Bringing the 10m back to 7m would return impact of collisions according to Rothfield.
It may be compromised with how quick players get off the line, but ‘Buzz’ believes it at least deserves a run in a trial game.
Rothfield says it should go from eight down to six.
More fatigue would mean more space, although it could lead to more injuries, so it’d need to be further assessed.
Buzz Rothfield’s proposed rule changes
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) July 8, 2019