Off the Wall

I am surprised there has not been a stronger reaction to the news earlier this week that the number of tries scored in each NRL fixture has dropped alarmingly.

Figures showing that the average number of tries in a game has dropped from 8.5 to 6.8 over the last decade are a real cause for concern, if not alarm.

The great advantage our code has over the other rugby code is that ours is a game centred around tries - not goals and field goals. It has served our game well.

It is a part of our rich heritage that must be protected. Yet it is today at some risk because try scoring is on the decline.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly why. One contributing factor undoubtedly is the advent of the video referee.

Tries which were routinely, and probably rightly, granted a decade ago are now subject to forensic scrutiny, and over scrutiny.

That is an issue that must be addressed by the ARLC. The "benefit of the doubt" rule is not being applied anywhere near enough.

Indeed, some video referees are ignoring it totally and are doing so in defiance of the rules, and traditions, of the game.

The ARLC needs to make it clear to video referees that if they have to spend three or four minutes looking over and over again at endless video angles then they are abusing the spirit of the rules, and neglecting the "benefit of the doubt" provision which has served the game well.

But there are other factors that are mitigating against try scoring, such as poor enforcement of play the ball segments.

We all like robust defence, and we all admire the games great tacklers.

But the game we love is centred around free flowing play, and scoring tries.

The ARLC needs to consider a revision of the way the rules are being interpreted by referees and video referees.

And it needs to insist the "benefit of the doubt" rule be applied as it was intended.

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