The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – Six Again? No Thanks!

At a time when the NRL needs the majority of its stakeholders on the same page, I’m somewhat surprised that the decision has been made to introduce a rule change as significant as the six again call.

In my opinion, and let me stress that it’s my opinion and I hope to be wrong, this is a poorly conceived rule thrust upon this year’s Premiership without the benefit of a proper road test.

Adding to my apprehension, reports are emerging that a significant number of prominent players and coaches had voiced their opposition when consulted, yet such concerns have been seemingly brushed aside.

Sharks playmaker, Chad Townsend has spoken out against the change and his objections seem typical of many others – “ I don’t like the six restart proposal and I don’t like the fact that proposals are being put forward at this time. It’s just a time to continue with the product we’ve got.”

And the question must be asked, what is so wrong with our game that integral changes such as one referee AND a six again ruck call are being shoved through just before the May 28 reboot? We have a product that has the opportunity to be showcased to a world calling out for broadcasts of competitive team sports, yet we choose to complicate it for our own participants and supporters. It seems ludicrous!

Whilst we shouldn’t judge the validity of a rule change on the basis of the opinions of players and coaches alone, these blokes are the ones tasked with playing under changed conditions with only a couple of weeks notice.

But let’s not leave it there. Let’s also consider the major player in this rule change – the referee.

I’m concerned about my mate Henry

It is surely counterintuitive to introduce a new ruck rule at the exact time that the second referee, the ruck referee, is removed from the game.

Have the powers that be forgotten about the increased one-on-one strips that two refs had to adjudicate last year? Have they forgotten about other rule changes such as captain’s challenge and scrum positioning?

And what about the biggest stakeholders of all – the fans?

I can only express my opinion in this post, but I hope that platforms such as TCT or other social media sites are used by fans to express their views.

As a supporter, I feel as if the rule has been rushed through under my guard. In the past, when rules have been changed, or at least the interpretations of rules, I’d know that the change was coming. I’d witness significant chunks of preseason training dedicated to opposed sessions with referees applying said rules.

As an individual who’s passionate about the game and its rules, this lack of preparation afforded to players, coaches and referees infuriates me.

Such a significant rule change should have been trialled for a season across Canterbury Cup, Flegg, Ron Massey and Sydney Shield competitions. Data and feedback needed to be gathered and analysed before a decision was made about its introduction to NRL matches. This could have taken place in 2021.

Potential scenarios such as inconsistent application of the rule, or teams not having the opportunity to kick for goal in tight games, can’t be explored or debated at this point because it’s never been faced across multiple games. 

But above all else, with just two weeks until the competition kicks off, the implementation of this rule has as much clarity as a schoolie on a Bali bender. It’s a rule, that for all intents and purposes, seems to have been made on the run.

We can and should do better than that.


Eels forever!



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Richard Cranium

Couldn’t agree more. The six again has been trialled once in an All Stars game. It was woeful. Why are they bringing it in now, without proper development or a decent length trial of the rule? It’s lunacy. The NRL need to realise that the constant changing of rules, in the search for perfection, actually takes it further away. And one ref? V’Landys has said it was the result of a survey, and the fans want it. 2 points. 1, how many fans took the survey. 2, I’d that was the reason for the change, why wasn’t it done PRIOR… Read more »

kevin freeman

I believe ‘six again’ will have a real (positive) impact on the teams that have employed tactics that slow down and the ruck — and spoil the game.
At long last those teams, and their coach, will have to quickly ‘clear the ruck’ and allow the game to flow — or else give away six more tackles. A great innovation!

Richard Cranium

It will also take away the penalty goal. You’re up by one with a minute to go, and defending your line. I know what I would be doing 😁

kevin freeman

Good point. Maybe a penalty could still remain an option? (I’m not sure yet, will need to research more). The bottom line is that the ruck is spoiling the game. Anything to stamp out these delays has got to be beneficial so that teams can “throw the ball around” and generate thrills and spills — rather than head down, bum up, football

kevin freeman

Showing my age (almost 80) here….BUT…. for far too long the coach has dictated the fabric of our game by ‘massaging’ rules to their advantage. And so many critics talk about “what if a penalty is given in the last two minutes of a game. Question: what about an (unfair) penalty given in the first two minutes of game? Why is that any different? Back in the 50’s and 60’s we had a “5 yard rule” in the ruck and then a “3 yard rule” and then a “10 yard rule” all of which were ‘engineered’ by the coaches for… Read more »


Sixties, don’t they mostly pull them back because team mate/s are in front of the mark. Will the new rules feature this? Maybe the coaches need to get players thinking about that. And good read Kevin.


Thanks for your personal opinion on this debate Sixties. I don’t often find myself so polarized against a perspective you have put forward as much as I am in this case. Briefly: a) Not pulling up a quick tap as the solution to the ruck wrestle and mess, has had over 10 years to be considered and applied and it has not succeeded. b) Something radical had to be introduced to this ruck and wrestle area to open the way for a completely different approach to eradicating the problem/blight on the game. c) I believe this rule change will also… Read more »


As you are probably now aware Sixties? There is provision for the referee to blow a penalty for a couple of repeated ruck infringements without warning to either team or any need for consultation or explanation with on field quasi referees such as Cam Smith or DCE. This can only be a good thing also.

Colin Good

I consider this as a good rule change,Bellyach will have to rethink his strategy to slow the game down


Totally agree kevin. You have put the argument FOR this rule change very simply and to the point. This is in my opinion the “whole” for the rule change which when added to the one referee will give power to police the ruck back to just one man being the referee. If he applies his interpretation equally to both teams the players will quickly adapt their game to comply…..or lose!


Sixties, are you more concerned about the 6 again than the 1 ref? That was my initial reaction, other than timing the 1ref thing doesn’t faze me as much, there are many pro’s and cons, but the 6 again will end up like anything else in the ruck – perfection-lite, exploited and inconsistently applied. The option for the ref to also blow a penalty will be interesting. All too rushed, and yes, ball stripping was the other area that even 2 refs and 2 linespeople couldn’t quite nail. And throw in the bunker there too in the try scoring stripping… Read more »


The first month there will be a thousand 6 again calls, then the refs will stop calling it until semi final time when it will blitz again
On the refs its a money saving exercise. I read it will save the NRL $3 million. As far as NRL expenditure goes, that’s one week of spending at $500k a day, surely they can save money elsewhere


Another V’landys failure This is about saving money not improving the game , mitchell ,ado carr strike one, cleary first time strike two , now altering game mid comp strike 3 , it may be way to go 1 referee but the timing is woeful , there is to many things being done on the run that may create more problems than we already have , maybe im wrong about the outcome but not about the timing !

Greg Okladnikov

I think both are major changes are very rushed and no definite reason why. Cost saving for one referee – if that is the reason we are in trouble. The ruck rule change – its a major change – how can it be brought in when no fans / players or coaches were asking for it. Hopefully it is not a case of the new bosses just doing what they want, without an understanding of the game, or the impact on the game. 2 big changes with no testing in lower grades and not all coaches agreeing ? I cant see the benefit of either

Colin Good

If a team wishes to kick for goal they have the option

Richard Cranium

Not if the ref rules six again, which they’re now supposed to for ruck infringements in lieu of a penalty


I like the six again call as long as refs use it. Call held when forward momentum is stopped as the rule book states instead of allowing three and four players to rush in and then call dominant tackle. Of course multiple players will dominate one attacker. I hate when the defensive player looks at the ref and waits to be told to let go of the attacking player. If you have time to look around let go. I think when they started inviting some coaches in to ask how the game should be adjudicated they lost the plot. Rant… Read more »


I agree Rocket about the rule books being enforced.


I would be Sixties, if it was allowed to flow in a perfect footy game, but it doesn’t. Penalties generally give both teams a rest before the reset with a tap. That is part of the problem that I believe this new rule to (play on with six again signal) will also give greater opportunity to address.


I like it Rocket.


I get it about the change during the season but this is a season where we have had a long break; financial issues have been found out a CEO or two moved on and they have had time to re-do some items. Shock we have even seen players not social distance and get off lightly…..the same story but different year. The 6 to go i will wait and see but if it helps the ruck then i am for it; and i did see somewhere that they can penalise? I thought i saw this mentioned somewhere and sin binning? If… Read more »


“An attacking team cannot request a penalty instead of getting another set but referees will retain the right to issue a full penalty and place players in the sin bin for persistent ruck infringements and professional fouls”. I am not sure if these reporters have it as fact or have interpreted this. This was on the NRL website Sixties. So to me this means the refs have the discretion and while i agree with this i also see this may be different as per who referees each team.But to me this has some merit. Anything to speed up the game… Read more »


It could also mean Hello J Ribot and hello China, but maybe not until trade restrictions are lifted 🙂

Richard Cranium

And if the ref has the discretion to blow a penalty, wait for the usual calls of bias or incompetence. It’s either a penalty or not.


The dummy half running is a given Sixties, but it wasn’t so bad for us in 2001 when Tony Archer, for us the top referee allowed it and penalized the opposition mercilessly to our advantage……Consider this then. If that is the major consequence of this rule change and we eradicate the wrestle in the ruck, which option do you choose my friend? For me? Anything to be rid of the wrestle.


Milo not often I disagree with Sixties but I am rowing your boat at the moment. The other thing that was in the article is that the “Professional foul will be ruled without warning Valandys is different to TG in that he is a benevolent dictator and not a reactor. He has stated that he is on a mission to eliminate the wrestle We will see where this all ends up soon enough. My biggest hate at the moment outside the wrestle is the new rule allowing strips once the second defender drops off. It adds nothing to the spectacle… Read more »


Thanks John, your last paragraph will tell where we are in 12 months and if V’Landys has been successful or not. I am for it albite cautiously and i for one like that he has made the call as some bosses do this. I guess my view is let the coaches / fans etc complain and i go back to 2018 when the refs cracked down and yes we complained but then the NRL backed off whereby they should have persisted in my view to see players / coaches come into line with the crackdown. Anyway time will tell mate.… Read more »


You are right mate, we all knew it would stop and that is my point, if they persisted it would / could have made coaches abide by the rule, yet the NRL gave in. Enforce the rule as it is and draw that line in the sand….


I read and understood the rule same as you Milo, on Friday! I’m only sorry I didn’t have time to support your argument then. There has clearly been much more evaluation of the hypothetical than some/most people believe. The few abuses of the new rule will become clear pretty quickly IMO and will then be addressed.


Yes Rowdy the abuses will begin v soon during the opening rounds i believe too. I read this morning about Fox and 9 asking for changes to interchange to make the same more attractive etc for views. This is good but again how the game is policed will be key. We want a balance between the no wrestle and the tough football type events. I recall Parra in 2001 recording some huge wins and also games with 54-28 scorelines…..


I think the refs will police the six again more often when the attacking team is within the 10 meters of the try line.

paul taylor

Boys I get a touch footy feel of it. Tap and run and keep the ball in play at all costs. The one ref deciding on the tackle, the strip, the holding on, the third man in – easier to call the 6 again and keep the flow. Teams with good second phase and off the cuff may excel because it will all be coming down to the speed of the ruck and how quickly you can get to your feet knowing that a sloppy hold is going to get you 6 again. Reward for effective tacklers is massive. Imagine… Read more »


What about H Perenara….? 🙂


When you paint the walls in a house you go get a sample, put it on a wall that can be hidden and wait a few days to see if you like it. You probably also don’t ask your grandparents for colour suggestions and wait until you can paint all the walls so that it looks good when it is finished. The NRL on the other hand is making changes and big decisions based upon a few suggestions from dinosaurs like Gould and Rothfield with no idea how it will look, what the impact will be and also how quickly… Read more »

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