Is speed of NRL too fast, slow or just right?

featured, League, NRL 2022, NRL rules



There has been plenty of debate already this season about the speed of the game.

A few years ago it was too slow, the past couple of years as the six-again changes took effect it was way too fast and now the wrestle is supposedly dragging the game speed back too many pegs.

The ARL Commission has thankfully decided not to change the rules yet again after meeting on Tuesday to discuss the topic but referees are being instructed to police the rules more stringently to ensure teams don’t slow down the ruck too much.

Is the balance just right in 2022 or should the game be sped up or slowed down using the existing rulebook?

The Roar experts have their say and if you’d like to do likewise, fire away in the comments section below.

Just right. The tempo of the game is just fine as it is. Leave it alone. The set-up this year is keeping some of the battlers in the contest for longer so we’re not seeing as many blow-outs as last year when it was helter-skelter with a lot more six-agains and a lot less punishment for penalties.

A touch too slow. The rules don’t need to be changed, the refs just need to ensure teams don’t bend them as much as they do. If a player is deliberately slowing down a play-the-ball, they should still penalise them at any point on the field and give them 10 minutes in the sin bin if they think it’s a professional foul. There’s always going to be blowouts but when two evenly matched teams square off, they should each be given the opportunity to attack when they’re on the front foot rather than get stymied by defenders who know they can avoid sanctions if they push the envelope.

Although no one should judge anything based on last week’s 8-6 slugfest between the Titans and Tigers. That was not representative of first-grade professional rugby league.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Just right. After the garbage of the last two years which affected the fan’s enjoyment and sent TV ratings plummeting, it’s nice to actually see some rugby league being played. I guess that won’t be around for too much longer…

Just right. When it comes to the ‘wrestle’, I was unclear about why the rules were changed in the first place, but the relaxation this year has brought back rugby league that I love to watch. There may have been some blowout scores on the weekend, but that is not the result of the rules – it is the result of some teams being very good and others not so much. We should always be looking to make our competition competitive, but through good governance, leadership and player skill some teams will always be better than others.

Just right. Last year the game was too fast. It’s rugby league not touch footy. These past four rounds have been sensational to watch. Yes, a couple of blowouts last weekend, but overall the games have been awesome. If a defender holds down a player for too long, then they should get penalised. But don’t make the tackle time feel like a split second – please don’t go back to last year. 

I could just write “stop changing the bloody rules!” a thousand times but instead I’ll politely tell everyone who thinks that the rules should go back to what they were that they are actually now aligned with what Super League (and everyone else) was already playing last year.

The problem (if there is one at all) is that some NRL teams are bad and others are good and the boomers that run the NRL think that there is a mythical hinterland where all was well. There isn’t. There won’t be if you keep changing the bloody rules.

It’s honestly too soon to tell. The idea that four weeks is a decent sample size to readjust rules is crazy, especially given the lashing rain and cyclonic winds that have affected a number of games. Let’s wait at least until the Origin period before we make any declarations about the speed of the game. 

Too slow. We’ve gone from too damn fast back to horribly slow play-the-balls. If your team isn’t wrestling then they are losing. The answer is in the middle. The question is whether we have officials who are capable of achieving that middle ground, while still keeping an eye on the offside. Maybe it is time to bring back the second referees!

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Referee Ashley Klein looks on during the round two NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Manly Sea Eagles at Sydney Cricket Ground, on March 18, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Just right. Attacking against ragged, back-peddling defensive lines is key to scoring tries. Thus play-the-ball speed is everything. Thus slowing it down is everything, too. Teams are good with giving away a six-again early in the set. So how about this as a deterrent: Not only do you get a fresh set of six, you get them added to the tackles you haven’t yet used. If it’s tackle two – boom – now you’ve got 10 left. A 10-tackle set. Defend that, bitches.

Too fast. Rugby league is a great product independent of the speed at which it is played. Sure, there have been historical periods where things have become excessively stodgy and the rules then tweaked to open and quicken up the game. As we saw in 2021, there have also been moments where the value placed on defence has seemingly lessened and high scores become the norm.

Personally, I find the current speed of the game excessive and would not mind seeing teams being able to manage the clock and alter momentum with astute kicks for touch and clever game management from those steering the ship. Most concerning is the shift from year to year, with rules changes and tweaks constantly altering the speed of the game and areas of particular importance for coaches on which to focus. It must be impossible to prepare for a season not fully knowing the way the game will look once the games begin.

The game is great but sometimes I feel we just need to leave it alone and that some efforts to force style and speed might actually be unnecessary.

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