Off the Wall

What a pleasant change? This year's annual NRL Conference actually produced something of substance!

The first substantial decision to emerge was, however, oh so typical of the way the game is run - we have a problem, so let's have a committee to look at it.

There are serious issues surrounding the way the finals are conducted - and the extra time structure is surly high among them.

A committee (and it must be said its membership is a good one) has been set up to review a range of issues. These include the finals series structure, extra time in finals, and player safety issues.

The issue that bugs me most is the fact that in extra time the outcome can be determined by a field goal - as these days it very often is.

It has become a farce. To its credit the NRL clearly realises that. The one certainty is that the existing "golden point" system won't survive.

The most likely outcome is that when the scores in a final series match are equal at full time there will be a specified extra time period - say 10 minutes. If the scores remain equal at the end of the specified period, golden point will apply.

The use of the McIntyre system to determine the finals is also under review - and so it should be.

The only problem is that other options - such as the AFL system - are not without their flaws as well.

But at least it is going to be reviewed.

The other piece of good news to come out of the conference, sadly, has to be treated with some suspicion.

The clubs want the NRL to make it a condition of the next television rights agreement that the NRL, not the free to air rights holder, decides the match schedule - allowing for whole season scheduling which would massively benefit the clubs with their corporate and membership ticketing.

The NRL supported the move - but, as usual, David Gallop added the caveat that it would depend on the impact of the change on the value of the television rights. And we know for sure that the current rights holder opposes any change.

The AFL retains the rights to determine its schedule - and that does not seem to have had much of a negative impact on the dollars the AFL gets for its rights!

This is where leadership is required - and I hope the IC provides it!

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