Mick Morgan’s play-the-ball idea

I don’t often cite letters from our Mailbag in my ‘Talking Rugby League’ column in League Express, but this week is an exception.

The great Mick Morgan of Castleford sent us an interesting letter about the new interpretation of the play-the-ball rule, which we published in the League Express Mailbag.

The RFL has decided that players must play the ball with their foot, which they haven’t been required to do for many years now.

The problem is that I can very easily envisage a blizzard of penalties ruining the game for the first few weeks of the season, before there will be an outcry and the new interpretation will be quietly dropped by the RFL.

So how can we try to implement the amended rule without ruining the game with an abundance of penalties?

Mick has an interesting answer, which I think smacks of genius. Let him put it in his own words.

“When a try is scored and the referee asks the video-referee for confirmation, the first question he asks is whether it was a legal play-the-ball. If it wasn’t, the try is chalked off, no matter what has happened afterwards.

“The beauty of this system is that you never know which play-the-ball you are going to score a try from.

“So players and coaches will soon ensure that the ball is played properly.”

That seems like a great idea to me. Instead of blowing the whistle at very play-the-ball, let the video-referee examine when a try is scored whether the ball was played properly, and disallow the try if it wasn’t.

The coaches would no doubt swear at the video referee, but after doing so they would be highly motivated to ensure that their players play the ball properly. And Rugby League will remain a great spectacle. What’s not to like?

Read Martyn Sadler’s ‘Talking Rugby League’ column every Monday morning in League Express.