Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


A Lesson from League

Rugby League Dropout
© Pic courtesy of Brett Matthews

I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life. I once rugby tackled a traffic island (successfully) and narrowly avoided being hit by a bus. However the most stupid thing I’ve ever done is tell a bus load of Yorkshiremen that Rugby League is “for sissies.”

League has always baffled me.

Whenever I’ve tried to sit and watch it on TV I’ve always found it fairly dull. A training exercise more than a game. To me League is to Union what Snakes & Ladders is to Chess.

Living in Leeds makes it hard to ignore though, especially as it seems to be a legal requirement for any car in the area to have a Rhinos sticker clearly displayed at all times. After living here for almost 8 years I finally made it to a Rhinos game and whilst it failed to persuade me the game’s anything other than a glorified training session, there was one aspect that stood out as something that could benefit Union.

In Rugby League the game is restarted with a drop-out by a defending player from the centre of his goal line (under the posts) if:

  • A defending player brings the ball back over their own try line and grounds the ball in the goal area
  • A defending player is tackled in their in-goal area
  • The ball is held up by the opposition defence.
  • A defending player kicks the ball in touch on the full from their own in-goal area

Most would lead to the attacking side earning the put in at a 5 metre scrum in Union.

But what if the attacking captain of a Union side was given a choice? Where a 5 metre scrum would usually be awarded the Captain may choose to let the defending side take a goal line drop out instead.

By having the drop out under the goal posts the kicker is forced into a flat kick making it hard to get any distance. The attacking side would probably get the ball back just outside the 22 and attacking momentum would be restored. Certainly in the game I watched it was rare to see it cross the 20 metre line and the ball has to travel at least 10 metres so the defending side have little or no chance of collecting it.

I’m not suggesting the 5 metre scrum be abolished completely but if an attacking side’s scrum is struggling against the opposition there’s sometimes little benefit in being awarded one.

There may even be a case for replacing the 22 drop out with one taken under the posts (except maybe when the attacking side kick the ball out on the full). It seems unfair for a closely run chip and chase to result in a 22 drop out (a huge chunk of territory) if the defending team gets there first.  Also if a covering defender knew touching the ball down would result in a drop out under the posts they may be more likely to run with it if the attacking side were some distance away.

Now the chances of the IRB stumbling across this and deciding on a rule change are remote but I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this. I accept it’s back of a fag packet stuff but what do you think?

Thanks to Brett for the pic.

2 Responses

  1. I believe you have stumbled upon a great idea, that has applications to broaden Union and bring supporters from League. I mean sin binning has made the code switch and made some players decision making skills all the more honed.
    I think having the choice will make the defending side look more for the hard yards instead of stunting the game in the final third, while the attacking side will look more for chip and chance as opposed to Gary Owens pinged up to force mistakes at full back.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion