What a way to get started!!! Welcoming back Sam Burgess to Rugby League, the Dragons unable to win in Melbourne since 1999 and the reigning Premiers scraping in a round 1 win against the sharks. There were some tremendous talking points from Round 1, but lets kick off with the 3 big changes for 2016.

The Bunker

For myself personally the highlight was the introduction of the Bunker. I watched 5 games on the weekend and in my opinion the Bunker was a great all round success. It provided efficient and informed decisions that allowed the game to continue to flow, keeping fans alike engaged in the match.

But honestly it is no surprise!!! It is tried and tested as many American sports such as NHL use this system to great success. I enjoyed NOT watching 10+ replays of each angle time after time, trying to figure out what the officials are trying to find.

“Supporters will also be informed. We will transform the fan experience through live explanations via the broadcast and via our digital and social platforms.”

and……………………… we were!



Reduced Interchange

The lowlight if you will was the reduced interchange. While it is only round 1, what I did witness was how sloppy the early rounds can be. Players lack match fitness and as a result there are numerous errors in the game. I question whether the reduced interchange will bring the desired result.

“We want the best football being played by the best footballers”

Will the reduced interchange achieve this, or just provide us with a scrappy, error filled back half of the game? I understand the intention of the NRL to provide oppurtunity to the smaller, quicker players in an aim of providing great attacking football in the dying stages of games.

“We think these changes are a significant first step because they will reward endurance and fitness and open up the game”

“As a result of these changes, there will be a greater emphasis on skill to complement power and size”

As a fan i hope it goes to plan. It is truly exhilarating to look back on the likes of Allan Langer, Matt Bowen, Preston Cambell and many others that had huge success through there agility and speed over the years.



The Scrum Clock

Mixed emotions on this change. It has been well documented how the players waited for the scrum clock to wind down in the All Star game. I again witnessed it Monday night in the Storm V Dragons. In the late stages of the game the Dragons were awarded the feed and packed quickly. Time was stopped and the Storm players took advantage and caught their breath for a few seconds. Ironically the scrum clock was not shown on the big screen so the Storm players had no idea of how long they had before potentially being penalised.

Several players have already commented that it will likely result in teams utilising all the time available, when previously they may have packed quicker.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think it gives us players a chance to have a rest,” said Smith.

“There were a few times there early on where we were at the scrum with about 25 seconds left on the clock. I used my brains a bit and told the boys to wait another 20 seconds”

Perhaps the best solution would be to keep the shot clock. However once one team has packed the clock should be reduced to 10 seconds for the remaining team to pack. This would still keep all scrums under 35 seconds, while limiting the ability for the defending team to exploit the rule change



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