Brough gives cautious backing to proposed rule changes

Danny Brough says halfbacks will have to take the rough with the smooth if Super League resumes with a number of new rules later this year.

The veteran Wakefield star sees the obvious advantages for playmakers of the ‘six-again’ rule, under which the tackle count is restarted rather than a penalty awarded for the majority of ruck infringements.

But Brough, who is now in his 19th season as a professional, is more wary about the removal of scrums from the game.

The suggestion of that radical shift, albeit on a temporary basis, was the biggest decision to emerge from the latest meeting of the RFL’s laws committee, which includes Brough’s Trinity coach Chris Chester.

Medical experts have told the committee that scrums are responsible for a large majority of face-to-face interactions during matches, so they claim that outlawing them would reduce the risk of the coronavirus being spread.

How a game would restart after a knock-on or forward pass has not yet been resolved.

Clubs have been asked for their feedback before an RFL board meeting early next month, at which the move could be rubber-stamped.

The ‘six-again’ rule is generally seen to have been a success in the NRL.

Other rules that the RFL could copy from the NRL include using play-the-balls rather than scrums when the ball is kicked out on the full or hits the referee or another third party on the pitch, and restricting the legal point of contact for a third defender in an upright tackle to above the knee.

“We’ve seen in the NRL that six-again helps the attacking team build pressure and exploit gaps in a defence,” said Brough.

“But I don’t think losing scrums would be as much of a help for a halfback, because it would mean facing far more players in the defensive line. There wouldn’t be anything like as many gaps to go at.

“Scrums have always been part of our game, and while they give you that vital few seconds to get a breather and collect your thoughts, I think the shot clock has been a great introduction in preventing them taking too long.

“Having said that, I get the point about reducing contact between players, and if losing scrums for the rest of this year is what it takes to get us playing again, let’s get on with it.”