The NRL this week announced, amongst other things, that from next season the sport will use a shot clock to ensure re-starts in play happen without delay.
Much has been made about the number of stoppages in the game these days – almost every possible try is sent upstairs for video referee review, while players take more time than needed to re-start play from scrums and line dropouts. The idea of shot clock will make sure teams don’t go beyond a reasonable time. I like the idea of tidying this area up.
However, I question whether there is a need for it to be written in to rule. Why can’t referees use discretion and blow penalties when they feel teams are going beyond what is reasonable? There may be some examples where a re-start could take place quicker than what the maximum time is allowed via the shot clock. What happens then? Do we all stand around and wait for that time to expire?
Teams will look for ways to exploit loopholes in this new concept. Watch for players faking injury, balls mysteriously disappearing, captains trying to argue with the referees etc. When the first time a team gets penalised for this the coach, players and supporters will complain about game being decided by trivial penalties.
I’m all for the NRL attempting to speed up the flow of the game but I’d prefer they give more power to referees to use their discretion.
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