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On 05/10/2020 at 01:26, unapologetic pedant said:

Your #1 is a perfect example of why the rule should be changed, and why the charge down will not be coming back until the fear of conceding a repeat set is removed. Players clearly want to try it, want to make the effort to produce a big play, but the current rule punishes their endeavour. On the "Once bitten, twice shy" maxim, a player who made the attempt and conceded decisive extra possession, will not repeat their crime.

Your #3, illustrates a point I made before that causing any inconvenience to the kicker is increasingly seen as malfeasance. -  How dare you disturb the kicker`s comfort, you wicked defender, six-again, that`ll teach you. In most RL games, with no captain`s challenge and video ref, such decisions to penalise kick-pressure are dispiritingly de rigueur.

In the Panthers/Roosters game you might also have seen the way a defender moved towards Nathan Cleary`s late field-goal shot. He didn`t raise his arms - too risky. That`s where we`re really at, standard kick-pressure is just an attempt to get in the kicker`s eyeline. The vital part of the movement is to avoid appearing to play at the ball.

Your observation in your first paragraph that " players clearly want to try it, want to make the effort to produce a big play.." was certainly borne out by the events of the weekend. Dugan`s and Lane`s were undeniably attempts at charge down however may have fallen under the `spur of the moment`, `the big play` category rather than anything coached. Does make me wonder though that perhaps the play itself has not been drummed out of the players by coaches, if some are still attempting it.

The other attempts were more blocking the ball itself with legs or body, including one in the 13th minute of the Newcastle vs. Souths game.

The Fisher-Harris is the example for me that is of particular interest, and there are certain elements of that example that make me wonder whether it was a deliberate play by a clever coach who was looking for a way to circumvent existing charge down rules. As you would be aware there are many occurrences when a team is attacking the try line and put a grubber through and it rebounds off legs of defenders, the crucial call made by the referee whether that was a deliberate block or not, is often either based on a teams reputation for blocking grubbers, like the Roosters or often a pretty arbitrary decision of whether it was played at or not by a referee in the heat of the moment who is also trying to watch a dozen other things. Or of course whether it was a blatant `played at, six again`.

This is where I come to Fisher-Harris`s (F.H.) charge down attempt. I wonder whether F.H. charging at the kicker and the way he did it by not raising his arms in a manner so that there could be absolutely no accusation of charge down and that any one watching would assume that it was just another attempt to put pressure on the kicker, but in fact the whole play was about blocking the kick, but of course making it appear incidental. That is why when the Referee ruled charge down six again, which is what most referees will instinctively do, the play was immediately pulled up by Cleary who challenged the call. Cleary did this full well in the knowledge that the scrutiny provided by Captains challenge would show a player, F.H., charging at the kicker who accidently had the ball kicked into him, no charge down, no tackle restart, play on. Rooster tackled, last play handover. Which of course ultimately is the way the ruling went. For me the way Cleary immediately pulled up the play to challenge makes me think the whole thing was pre planned. It is a very odd thing to do in this situation, not something I can recall before. In most of those cases the benefit of the doubt goes to the kicking team and that decision is accepted as a fait accompli by the defending team. Only that Cleary knew that closer inspection would show that F.H. did nothing that could be construed as a charge down.

Coach Cleary and Barrett very cleverly tipped the scales their way by making sure that F.H. did nothing that would tip the scales back the other way.

 

 

 

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On 07/10/2020 at 11:49, The Rocket said:

Your observation in your first paragraph that " players clearly want to try it, want to make the effort to produce a big play.." was certainly borne out by the events of the weekend. Dugan`s and Lane`s were undeniably attempts at charge down however may have fallen under the `spur of the moment`, `the big play` category rather than anything coached. Does make me wonder though that perhaps the play itself has not been drummed out of the players by coaches, if some are still attempting it.

 

 

 

 

 

Before RL became limited possession defenders would routinely attempt charge downs. There was no reason not to try. Repeat sets were not a thing. The values from that time still linger. Only if a modern coach issues a categoric ban will the vestigial sense of obligation to challenge for the ball be extirpated.

I would love to think the Fisher-Harris case connotes premeditation. It would mean the Panthers want a focus on how fraught applying kick pressure has become. That if the ball hits a defender moving in any manner toward the kicker, his team stand to be hit with a repeat set. There ought to be a wider debate in the game about the wisdom of the current rule. Not just on a UK forum.

 

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Another instance on Friday with J W-H of a defender being penalised for having the temerity to make a kicker`s life more difficult. And the call set up the position for the Raiders` first try. Maybe kickers should wear a "Do not disturb" sign round their necks, until they`ve got their kick away.

This will keep happening under the current back-to-one rule. If defenders could play at the ball without the risk of a repeat set, they wouldn`t play at the kicker, and the actions of players would determine possession not the guesswork of refs.

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On 24/09/2020 at 20:37, Futtocks said:

If a player charges down a kick, but the opposition gathers up the loose ball, then he deserves less than if he charges down a kick and gains possession for his own side.

 

If the rule didn`t wipe the tackle count, a player who charged down a kick but didn`t regather would get less than if he regathered. If he regathered he would instantly have possession, if he didn`t regather the opposition would still have possession on tackle 6. In the latter case the team would likely play last-tackle hot-potato with ball in hand or kick again. This sort of unstructured excitement is what we forego at the moment.

Reading again your posts on this topic Mr. Futtocks, they all seem to assume the current rule is set in stone. Which is odd, given the debate is about the merits and consequences of changing the rule.

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3 hours ago, Saint 1 said:

That can only be a deliberate misunderstanding of what happened. He hit him late and high. Soft yes, but dumb enough he made it impossible not to give a penalty for it. No guesswork involved from the refs. There was plenty of robust kick pressure for the rest of the game that did not draw a penalty.

I`m not having that. When everything is slowed down it makes the contact look late, and it seemed round the shoulder to me. I doubt that would have been called as a dog-shot had it been on a player passing the ball. It`s harder for a defender applying kick pressure to control his momentum when the priority is to avoid a perception of having played at the ball.

It fits the pattern of the burgeoning tendency of officials to see any sort of kick pressure as dangerous. Ironically I agree with them. That`s why I want to change the rule to one that encourages a challenge at the ball not the man.

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On 08/10/2020 at 23:09, unapologetic pedant said:

Before RL became limited possession defenders would routinely attempt charge downs. There was no reason not to try. Repeat sets were not a thing. The values from that time still linger. Only if a modern coach issues a categoric ban will the vestigial sense of obligation to challenge for the ball be extirpated.

I would love to think the Fisher-Harris case connotes premeditation. It would mean the Panthers want a focus on how fraught applying kick pressure has become. That if the ball hits a defender moving in any manner toward the kicker, his team stand to be hit with a repeat set. There ought to be a wider debate in the game about the wisdom of the current rule. Not just on a UK forum.

 

Your first paragraph gives me an opportunity to clear something up that I have been grappling with for a while.

I am not old enough to remember unlimited tackle Rugby League but I do recall very clearly as a young boy my father describing it to me. He told me that under unlimited tackle some teams, namely St. George was the example he used, had become masters of retaining possession and that would trundle down field all day, get down the other end and score and this would be repeated over and over and they became so good at it they were nigh on unbeatable, which incidentally they were. The play commonly used is what we would call now `dummy half runs` or what is referred to in union as `pick and drive`. In fact you still see it in union with their interminable pick and drives as they inch down field.

I read that in your part of the world that teams became so obsessed with retaining possession that it was possible for them to retain possession for long periods of the game much to the detriment of the game as an exciting spectacle. It reached its zenith in 1966 in a game between Hull KR and Huddersfield where Huddersfield were only able to touch the ball twice in the first half. Australian League authorities were experiencing the same problem and agreed with a proposal to introduce the 4 tackle rule.

Now this is where I have the problem, given the above scenario, widely documented, firstly why would a team kick the ball away with unlimited tackles and secondly if it was kicked why would a team attempt to charge it down and risk surrendering it straight back to the kicking team and be faced with another long period without the ball. It doesn`t make sense.

Even kicking the ball into touch meant surrendering `head and feed` which usually meant losing the ball as well. Followed to its logical conclusion the only way a team could regather the ball was by striking at the play the ball, knock on or intercept.

So I am assuming you know something I don`t. I could possibly understand that if a team was having a hard time making ground that they may kick but then why would  team attempt to charge down the kick when they were about to receive `unlimited tackles `where ever they collected the kick.

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, The Rocket said:

Your first paragraph gives me an opportunity to clear something up that I have been grappling with for a while.

I am not old enough to remember unlimited tackle Rugby League but I do recall very clearly as a young boy my father describing it to me. He told me that under unlimited tackle some teams, namely St. George was the example he used, had become masters of retaining possession and that would trundle down field all day, get down the other end and score and this would be repeated over and over and they became so good at it they were nigh on unbeatable, which incidentally they were. The play commonly used is what we would call now `dummy half runs` or what is referred to in union as `pick and drive`. In fact you still see it in union with their interminable pick and drives as they inch down field.

I read that in your part of the world that teams became so obsessed with retaining possession that it was possible for them to retain possession for long periods of the game much to the detriment of the game as an exciting spectacle. It reached its zenith in 1966 in a game between Hull KR and Huddersfield where Huddersfield were only able to touch the ball twice in the first half. Australian League authorities were experiencing the same problem and agreed with a proposal to introduce the 4 tackle rule.

Now this is where I have the problem, given the above scenario, widely documented, firstly why would a team kick the ball away with unlimited tackles and secondly if it was kicked why would a team attempt to charge it down and risk surrendering it straight back to the kicking team and be faced with another long period without the ball. It doesn`t make sense.

Even kicking the ball into touch meant surrendering `head and feed` which usually meant losing the ball as well. Followed to its logical conclusion the only way a team could regather the ball was by striking at the play the ball, knock on or intercept.

So I am assuming you know something I don`t. I could possibly understand that if a team was having a hard time making ground that they may kick but then why would  team attempt to charge down the kick when they were about to receive `unlimited tackles `where ever they collected the kick.

 

 

 

Let me first confirm that I am also too old to have seen an unlimited tackles game, so like you I have always had to infer the nature of the old game from footage and elliptical writings.

The first point of significance is that the 5m offside line was actually nearer 2m in practice. Hence, there was residually an RU ethic in gaining or losing territory, but without the ability to set up mauls to support the ball-carrier. And more of a sense that you had to go backwards to go forwards. Yards were generally harder to gain with ball in hand.

Second point is that there was no restriction on ball-stealing. This adds to striking at the PTB as options to secure a turnover, other than opposition error.

It`s counter-intuitive to our limited-tackles mindset, but the bottom line is that putting all the risk/reward factors together, teams deemed it better to be defending 50m upfield than have the ball 50m back. So, if a team thought it profitable to kick for territory, it made corresponding sense for the opposition to seek to deny them by attempting to charge down the kick.

There used to be protracted kicking duels of the sort that RU call "aerial ping-pong". So full-backs received the ball, and immediately kicked it back. This seems not to have died out after the move to limited tackles. There`s a clip on NRL.com of the first play of the 1971 GF where Graeme Langlands kicks off, Eric Simms catches the ball close to his own goal-line, and promptly boots it straight back into Dragons` territory.

In relation to scrums, there were various permutations at various times where the head and feed were split, so if everybody packed correctly the half was feeding the farthest hooker. Along with manifold cheating this meant a touchfinder carried a good chance of possession in better field position. And again, if a team deemed it to their advantage to kick for touch, it logically follows that their opposition would think it advantageous to stop them by charging down the kick.

 

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5 hours ago, Saint 1 said:

Jake Friend was closer to the kicker than JWH and pulled out and you're telling me that JWH was incapable of doing so? As I say, go and look at any other kick in that game, and there was plenty of robust kick pressure that wasn't penalised. If any sort of kick pressure was seen as dangerous, we would see a penalty every set. We do not. 

A player with less of a reputation for belligerent niggle than J W-H probably wouldn`t have been penalised. For me these fine-line late tackle calls are academic anyway, since I want players to go at the ball not the man.

The general tendency to see all kick pressure as suspect is a real trend. It`s reasonable to extrapolate the lines on the graph to speculate on where it`s leading. And of course I`m to some extent exaggerating, to make the case that none of this need be, if we jettisoned the back-to-one rule.

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On 11/10/2020 at 18:47, unapologetic pedant said:

Let me first confirm that I am also too old to have seen an unlimited tackles game, so like you I have always had to infer the nature of the old game from footage and elliptical writings.

The first point of significance is that the 5m offside line was actually nearer 2m in practice. Hence, there was residually an RU ethic in gaining or losing territory, but without the ability to set up mauls to support the ball-carrier. And more of a sense that you had to go backwards to go forwards. Yards were generally harder to gain with ball in hand.

Second point is that there was no restriction on ball-stealing. This adds to striking at the PTB as options to secure a turnover, other than opposition error.

It`s counter-intuitive to our limited-tackles mindset, but the bottom line is that putting all the risk/reward factors together, teams deemed it better to be defending 50m upfield than have the ball 50m back. So, if a team thought it profitable to kick for territory, it made corresponding sense for the opposition to seek to deny them by attempting to charge down the kick.

There used to be protracted kicking duels of the sort that RU call "aerial ping-pong". So full-backs received the ball, and immediately kicked it back. This seems not to have died out after the move to limited tackles. There`s a clip on NRL.com of the first play of the 1971 GF where Graeme Langlands kicks off, Eric Simms catches the ball close to his own goal-line, and promptly boots it straight back into Dragons` territory.

In relation to scrums, there were various permutations at various times where the head and feed were split, so if everybody packed correctly the half was feeding the farthest hooker. Along with manifold cheating this meant a touchfinder carried a good chance of possession in better field position. And again, if a team deemed it to their advantage to kick for touch, it logically follows that their opposition would think it advantageous to stop them by charging down the kick.

 

There was a game we played as boys called `force `em backs` which was based on the `kicking duels` you refer to. Two groups of equal numbers would split either side of half way and the aim of the game was through kicking to force the other team back to their in goal. The kick would be taken where it was either gathered or ideally caught on the full. I think there may have been a reward for catching it on the full by being able to advance the kicking mark by several metres.

I can clearly remember kicking duels, all though I suspect their heyday had passed because I also recall remarks from commentators like " Just like a good old fashioned kicking duel ". 

It`s funny because I was going to mention them in my last post as further evidence to the point I was trying to make. Rugby League I suspect was a lot more like rugby union than we care to admit. In fact it may well have been every bit the territorial game that union still is. Defence dominated ,pinning teams down and either waiting for the mistake, penalty or what we called the field goal. And this is why the charge down was so popular.

I had a look at season stats from years gone by on ` Rugby League Tables / Season ( insert year of choice )` and it revealed less tries scored on average per game and the teams lower down the ladder were lucky to average 1.5 - 2 tries per match. I only looked at a couple of years though.

I remember a mate saying to me once that he had seen old footage of a game under the old 5-metre rule and saying what a dirge it was. I think we have to be careful about romanticising the past with memories of overweight prop forwards, doubled over, slipping impossible passes from  what seemed like up their jumpers. Highlights reels can give us a false impression of what actually happened.

 

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17 hours ago, The Rocket said:

 

It`s funny because I was going to mention them in my last post as further evidence to the point I was trying to make. Rugby League I suspect was a lot more like rugby union than we care to admit. In fact it may well have been every bit the territorial game that union still is. Defence dominated ,pinning teams down and either waiting for the mistake, penalty or what we called the field goal. And this is why the charge down was so popular.

 

 

Given that RL started life as RU, past similarities shouldn`t surprise us. Or that they converged or diverged to varying degrees over time. The original mini-scrum PTB was seen by some in the Northern Union as a partial return to the earlier 19th century Rugby scrum before RU required the tackled player to release the ball on the ground.

Returning to your post listing recent charge downs and the #2 Storm/Eels. Two of the more spectacular tries in that game, one for each side, came via broken-field counter-attack from a loose ball. The potential for more of that sort of excitement is what RL is foregoing with the current rule strongly deterring attempted charge downs. Perfectly executing set plays and patterns are some of the ways to produce great football. But Gutherson, Munster and the rest also displayed their quality reactively when the opportunity arose. These impromptu plays paint different pictures on the pitch. We should want more of that variety.

We might not notice what we`re missing so much when watching NRL. But at lower levels, where players` are less capable of perfect execution, the ability to apply kick pressure at the ball with impunity, could open up games which would otherwise settle into a rigid, no-risk, set-for-set formula.

 

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  • 10 months later...

 @BrisbaneRhinoAlthough this thread gets bogged down at times and veers widely off-track it certainly does flesh out the pro`s and con`s of changing the charge-down six-again rule.

Personally I wonder now having had time to think about it, as ridiculous as this sounds, it`s just too radical a change. Would love to see it trialed though.

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