Richard Agar wants clarity on what will entail an infringement under the ‘six again’ rule ahead of its introduction when Super League resumes next month.
The rule was first utilised in the NRL for certain ruck offences when the Australian domestic season restarted after a two-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and will be in effect on these shores after being praised for speeding up the game.
However, Leeds Rhinos head coach Agar questioned whether it is necessary to introduce it to the British game and admitted to Sky Sports he found it difficult to spot exactly what was being penalised when he had seen it used in NRL games.
“I think there are so many questions,” Agar told the Golden Point Vodcast. “I watched the Roosters game [on Thursday] and every single restart, I’m going back and looking and sometimes I’m finding it difficult to differentiate what is a restart and what is not.
“Sometimes I see restarts pinged, but then I see another 10 tackles identical which don’t get pinged.
“I’m a rugby league purist so it takes the element of three-in to a slow death down, I’d like to see the point where a traditional, pure rugby league tackle can be rewarded, because at the moment perhaps it doesn’t get rewarded as it should and it’s seen as a negative.
“I just don’t see our game had the issues with the wrestle, the speed of the ruck and teams not being willing to promote the ball and play with it.”
Every single restart, I’m going back and looking and sometimes I’m finding it difficult to differentiate what is a restart and what is not.
The introduction of the ‘six again’ rule in the NRL was attributed to a series of lopsided scorelines over the first two weeks of matches following the season restart, with teams winning by an average of 18 points in Rounds 3 and 4.
Agar is keen to see the outcome of studies into what the longer-term effects of the new rules are and has cautioned against tweaking rugby league’s rules so they favour attack too much over the defensive side of the game.
“I think there’s got to be a balance,” Agar said. “I would like to see some data in what effect has it had on ruck speed, what effect has it had on people passing the ball in terms of line breaks.
“I’ve watched a lot of the NRL to see what teams have changed in terms of the style of play, and I’m coming to the conclusion every game looks different and some games, the better teams look like they’re playing more football.
“But I don’t think you need the balance of the game too heavily weighted to the attack. I can watch a game of rugby and enjoy a 14-10 game if it’s tight and intense, and a close-scoring game can be just as exciting even though there are three or four tries in it and they have to work for the tries.
“Effective defence, the line speed and the attritional element in battling for field position is still part of our sport.”
Agar is also concerned any clamour to speed up the sport will lead to there no longer being a place in rugby league for certain types of players.
“One of the great things about our game for 100 years is our game has catered for all shapes and sizes – the big men, the small men and the athletes,” Agar said.
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