It is time to stop revolting?

By Daniel Andruczyk

This weekend apparently saw a “whole bunch of average” games in the NRL. Well so it was claimed by several commentators on the radio. Apparently the play was terrible, the referees were terrible, it was stated that this has been the worst season in a long time in terms of quality rugby league and something needs to be done to “Fix it”? Um ha!? Since when did Rugby League, or any sport for that matter become purely an entertainment product?

Yes sure, I know that we, as Rugby League fans claim that out of all the football codes Rugby League is the best and most entertaining… and it is! But one of the great things about any sport is that you get a variety of games, sometimes good and sometimes bad, that teams need to be able to play and compete in any situation… and the fans need to be able to sit through and cheer any situation.

Why are we so obsessed in Rugby League every single year trying to swap and change things as a knee jerk reaction to some one off situation that happens, and if anything made the game interesting and a talking point. It is my opinion that in the last 5 years in particular that we have messed around too much with the rules and structure of the game purely for making money and the essence of the game and the reasons why we follow it are slowly being eroded.

It was once said that Rugby League is a sport ahead of its time, that it always brings in new “revolutions” into the game which many other sports then follow. However, I think this is completely the wrong way to look at the sport. Rugby League IS NOT a revolutionary sport, it IS a evolutionary sport. The revolution concept in Rugby League comes from the fact that we revolted against the Rugby Football Union in 1895, but isn’t the fact that we change in an organic way over time with play-the-balls and limited tackle rule an evolution of the sport, not a revolution.

Rugby League evolved to what it is now but with all the swaps and changes and quick fixes that seem to come in and out every year and also that there are different rules for different countries and International Rugby League shows that we have actually lost the plot when it comes to the sport. Is it that important that every game, team and player is a clone so that we get the same monotonous stuff every day and week? It also becomes difficult for referees to continually know exactly what the new rule interpretations and laws are, and so invariably the quality goes downs, which is exactly what the complaints were on the weekend.

So here is the paradox, the catch 22 from all this. A game is bad thus we must change the rules, but by changing the rules the standard of refereeing goes down and so the game is bad, so we change the rules etc… and round and round we seem to go.

I say that we need to stop this revolting for about 10 years. Draw a line somewhere and say OK, this is where we are at, lets just give this a go before we step back and have a world wide discussion for what needs to be done. Then if any changes are needed we make sure that 1. everyone is in a position to implement them and 2. the RLIF then endorses and makes sure that the laws are implemented across the whole world.

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