Category Archives: Comment

2013 NRL TV ad

Jessica Mauboy performs a re-mix of the Etta James song, Something’s Got a Hold On Me, in the 2013 promo.

The ad, which omits the recently banned shoulder charge, connects the game at grassroots to the footballers starring in the NRL.


Wiggins in Sky’s 2013 Super League promo

Bradley Wiggins and Sam Tomkins Sky's 2013 Super League promo

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins appears alongside Sam Tomkins and narrates Sky’s new advert for the 2013 Super League competition.

“Deep down, I would love to be a rugby league player” – Bradley Wiggins

The Serra de Tramuntana Mountain Range provides stunning scenery, as Tomkins runs on foot and Wiggins cycles.

Sky Sports’ first live Super League match of 2013 is Leeds v Hull FC on Friday 1st February.

Ideas to improve scrums #2: North American inspiration

In a previous post looking at the future of scrums, the suggestion was to create conditions that encouraged the more imaginative football that fans want to see by initially restricting the movement of defenders so that they were less prepared to counter attacks.

The post ended: “Possession is sacred in rugby league. Is this enough encouragement to risk it?” Perhaps not.

Risk averse teams running the ball from a scrum are still likely to be content with a possession-protecting, unimaginative hit up for the first tackle because they know there are another five tackles waiting to be used. But what if there weren’t?

A first down measurement in American football

Inspiration: a down is measured © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

A rugby league take on a North American idea

This suggestion uses the straightforward threat of taking possession away if a team doesn’t get far enough on the first tackle.

In American and Canadian football, teams need to progress a necessary distance to receive another next set of downs.

A version of this could be tried in rugby league: on the first tackle from the scrum, a team could be required to advance the ball x metres to be given the full set of six tackles.

If they don’t manage it – whether it’s due to good defence or through poor play – they will be limited to two tackles in total: forfeiting four.

Only allowing the team in possession one more tackle if they don’t reach the required distance from the scrum will allow officials to rule on what will happen next straight after tackle one is completed. The referee could use calls such as “not x [metres], last tackle [next]” or “full set [of six tackles], tackle one”.

This should lead to more exciting play from the scrum as well as allowing for the possibility of creative play on the second/last tackle too.

Lacking the measuring chains used in gridiron codes, the necessary distance could be indicated using a touch judge’s flag, with match officials giving rulings just as they do with other areas of the game such as offside.

With both teams incentivised, the necessary distance set wouldn’t need to be set too far to give spectators more chance of seeing the best of attack and defence at a scrum.

Possible changes in tactics

Coaches and players will invariably look at adjusting their scrum tactics to suit the changes. They might:

  • Bind more tightly and push in the scrum, to force the opposing team’s forwards to remain there and be slower in unbinding to join the defensive line.
  • Feel less inclined to give away a differential penalty (leading to them losing ground before facing six tackles), because even if they don’t win the ball, there is an opportunity to limit their opponents to two tackles. This would mean that referees could drive up the standard of scrummaging.


There are also 40/20s to remember. Excepting them from this change to retain the reward for a skilful kick would be a minor issue, as they are so uncommon.


Worth a trial?

New UK campaign: The Rugby League of the Extraordinary

Check out the new campaign for the 2012 Super League Play-offs

See other videos and more at

What’s rugby league? Here’s a video introduction for Americans

An introduction to the game of rugby league football made for Americans by USA Rugby League club Philadelphia Fight.

Newslinks for July 2012

  •  2013 World Cup “tickets will go on general sale on Friday October 26 2012″ –
  • Consortium of local Asian businessmen in Bradford Bulls talks pledge £1m and “want break down rugby league’s cultural barriers”Daily Mail
  • “EXPANSION plans that include the possibility of the competition increasing by two teams, staggered over two years, have been flagged during negotiations with television networks on the new broadcast deal.” – Greg Prichard – Sydney Morning Herald
  • “‘The fans will go crazy if they do it. Absolutely crazy’: reaction to Western Sydney Wanderers’ plan to cover up the statue of rugby league champion Ray Price at Parramatta Stadium” – Sebastian Hassett – Sydney Morning Herald
Cusack sporting an Australian Rugby League jersey while playing 'Gib' in The Sure Thing

Cusack wearing Green & Gold in The Sure Thing (1985)

And a tenuous RL connection  from April:

  • Congratulations to ‘rugby league evangelist’ John Cusack for getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Washington Post) and thanks to May Hart and Constance Sech, the wardrobe assistant and costumer, respectively, on The Sure Thing, for a great choice of costume for ‘Gib’ – IMDb
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