The NRL bunker is again causing controversy after a number of disallowed tries over the opening week of the NRL finals.
The obstruction rule in the NRL is the law that has been debated after some incidents during the Gold Coast Titans vs Sydney Rooters game among others.
The part of the rule in contention is the ball-playing part, in which the next receiver catches the football inside the line of the block runner. The block runner is a decoy player that doesn't receive a pass. The law says that the receiver must catch the ball on the outside of the block runner's external shoulder.
But in the game on the weekend the rule seems to not take into account the actual obstruction that's been penalised.
But as the footage shows the block runner made no impact on the eventual play and thus an obstruction was not committed in theory. This has had many commentators and supporters calling for a reform of the rule that lacks validity.
Earlier in the year, NRL legend Phill 'Gus' Gould slammed the current obstruction ruling. He said the referees "have absolutely no idea what an obstruction is." as he commented on the disallowed tries due to obstruction.
He doubled down on the confusion around the ruling saying "A lot of these happen in general play 50 times and they just let it go".
The rule may need to be tweaked and have the bunker look at the actual impact of the lead runner on obstructing a defender's tackle attempt. Also if the rule is only being looked at by the bunker in reference to just a try, not in general play, then the rule is totally nullified and may need a serious change.
The use of the block runner acts as a vital part of any teams set-piece attack and needs to be allowed to continue. Many of the best tries we have ever seen had a block runner apart of the lead-up sequence.
If the decoy runner does not impede the defender wanting to make a tackle or defend in general, then that is where an obstruction is totally warranted.
Right now, the obstruction rule in passing plays is flawed and rewards players that make bad defensive reads. The rule prevents many tries that add to the spectacle that is this great sport.
Enforcing this rule, which is not compromising defense, doesn't make a lot of sense and will no doubt be discussed at length before the start of season 2022