SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Referee Ben Cummins gestures during the round 25 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval on September 08, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

A Cronulla Sharks victory over the Warriors on the weekend settled this season’s Top 8 with two rounds to play, leaving four sides six points out of the top half of the ladder.

While placing in the eight is still dependant on the final two rounds, it renders all games between bottom eight sides as meaningless, dead rubbers, nada.

Across the next fortnight, there’s three clashes that are irrelevant in terms of the top eight, which are:

Round 19

– Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs. Gold Coast Titans @ Lottoland

Round 20

Brisbane Broncos vs. North Queensland Cowboys @ Suncorp Stadium

New Zealand Warriors vs. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles @ Central Coast Stadium

With no sides featuring any mathematical chance of playing finals football, should we start trialling ‘new rules’ across the dead rubbers?

Here’s some potential rule changes the NRL could implement across these three sides:


It’s highly unlikely one of the three games are extended beyond the 80 minute mark, but if they are, why not trial golden try to end the debate?

Since golden point’s inception, people have cried about its unfairness. Some say both sides deserve a point, some believe a full ten minutes of extra time should be played out, and some believe in golden try.

Basically, the game goes to extra time and the first team to score a try is deemed the winner, for those unaware. No try scored by the ten minute mark results in a draw.


This is a rule previously trialled in the Nines, to some success. Instead of the ‘advantage’ rule after a knock on, sides get a ‘free play’.

Once the attacking team knocks on and the defending side collects the ball, the team with the ball has a play where an error wouldn’t result in turning the ball over.

It promotes attacking football, with sides more likely to put in a zero tackle kick, adventurous passes, if the team hangs on to the ball at the end of the play, the set continues where tackled.

If they make an error during their free play or turn it over, they still retain the ball, however the set will begin where the opposing side knocked on.


This is as simple as you like. The Bunker will never exist without controversy, so give the boys with the buttons a rest for three games, instead adding a second challenge for each team.

One per half, and like the existing captain’s challenge, if you challenge a decision and get it wrong, you lose your ability to challenge. However, instead of losing it for the entire game, you lose it for that half.

For example, if a side challenges a decision early in the first half and get it wrong, they will be unable to challenge for the remainder of that half, however they will be regain a challenge at the beginning of the second half.

If a side gets all first half challenges correct or doesn’t challenge a decision in the first half, they will still only have one second half challenge.

It’ll encourage referees, especially after cutting back to one ref from two, to back their decision making.


Scrums are on their death bed in rugby league, this could bring back some spark. We’ve already seen scrum rules shift this year with teams now able to choose where on the field they’d like the scrum, to increase set plays off the scrum.

So why not ban backs in scrums? It’s been floated already but not allowing the speed men to pack into the scrum would mean no ‘one off’ hit-ups from a prop or lock at first receiver.

With three dead rubbers to play, what better opportunity to trial these rule tweaks than now? Peter V’Landys seems trigger happy with these quick changes to improve the game, so why not?

Do you agree with the floated rule changes? What would you tweak in today’s game? Let us know below in the comments.


  1. All good ideas Jack.
    What about these:
    1. A corner post at the 20 metre line to make it easier to determine 40/20 kicks and provide something for players to aim at. It also provides another sponsorship opportunity on the post, another revenue stream.
    2. Time off when a tried is scored. Allow a set period of time for a conversion attempt. Much better for TV deals and for the NRL and prevents the time wasting by teams. One of the more frustrating parts of our games. It’s even more frustrating when a referee signals time off about 5 seconds before he kicks the ball after watching him wasting 4 minutes playing with the ball on the kicking tee.
    3. Every field goal is Checked by automatic review by the bunker to ensure no blockers, this happens every time a field goal is kicked and its never reviewed.
    4. I agree with your Captains challenge idea, 1 each half is a great idea.
    5. An unintended consequence of the 6 again rule is the intentional slowing of the play the ball in the last few minutes of the game by the defensive team knowing full well the attacking team will run out of time. In the last 5 minutes of the game a horn sounds and if a team is awarded a 6 again set then the timekeeper adds another 2 minutes onto the clock. At full time in every game the referee only calls time off initially and then checks with both touch judges and the bunker to confirm no outstanding time keeping issues exist before blowing the whistle for full time.
    6. Instead of a conversion after a try allow the try scoring team the opportunity for another play by way of a tap on the 20 metre line instead of the conversion attempt. The NFL has something similar and awards less points for another touchdown.
    7. Stop the crowding in the play the ball, Storm and Roosters are experts at the “knees forward into the guy bending to play the ball”, a distraction that slows the play the ball, often causing the timing to be out and a forward pass is the final result.
    8. Hands on the guy playing the ball with the final result being the same as the point 7 above.
    9. Stop the third man into a tackle falling on the tackled player, it’s not legal but the massive forwards just fall on the completed tackle, the attacking team has no chance at a quick play the ball. Storm and Cronulla are the experts at this.

    The NRL and all teams are missing out on a perfect opportunity post COVID. We need a player draft as a matter of urgency. We will hear the same complaints from the usual suspects about why it won’t work for the NRL. I see this as the perfect opportunity to expand the game and bring in talent from other codes for team expansion.
    I recommend conducting combines throughout the Pacific, NZ, Europe, North America and Africa to attract talent. The biggest mobile rugby players I have seen are playing Rugby sevens for Fiji and many of the smaller African nations at the Hong Kong Sevens.
    Just the exposure by media following the combines in say Fiji and then following through with further stories about how the local grown talent progresses through to be picked up in the draft.

  2. I would like to see it made illegal to deliberately knock or throw a ball out of play (dead or into touch) with the hand. Would make the defence of an in-goal grabber kick more interesting than just knocking it dead. The rule has been in rugby union for ever and it’s a good rule.

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