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'Captains Challenge' to be trialled in NYC

The ARLC Competition Committee has supported a trial of a Captain’s ‘on-field’ challenge at Toyota Cup level this year.

The Committee which included ARLC General Manager of Football Nathan McGuirk, ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce, NRL coaches Brian Smith and Ivan Cleary, former coaches Daniel Anderson and John Lang and former Broncos Test Captain Darren Lockyer said the trial should be viewed as an exploratory exercise only at this stage.

“The idea of on-field challenges has been discussed for a number of years and this is a chance to test how a system might work,” Mr McGuirk said.

“The biggest difficulties lie in ensuring that flow of the game is maintained.

“The trial we discussed today involves a team having a limit of one ‘incorrect’ challenge in each half (there is no limit on the number of successful challenges).”

A sub-committee chaired by referees coach Stuart Raper and including full time match officials and referees coaching staff has recommended that areas of ‘challenge’ are limited to:

- A loss of possession (knock-on or strip) that leads to a ‘structured’ re-start (scrum or penalty)
- A decision that led to the ball going into ‘touch’ or ‘touch-in goal’
- Any decision involving try, no-try or point scoring decisions made by on-field officials that were not previously referred to the video-referee.
- A mandatory penalty (such as a member of the team in possession being off side and restart infringements).

Decisions involving discretionary penalties such as forward passes, 10m penalties, scrums and play the ball offences would not be subject to challenge.

“The more you look at this the more it becomes important to limit the number of potential interruptions to the game,” Mr Raper said.

“The flow of the game is an essential part of Rugby League and as much as we want to do everything we can to get the maximum number of decisions correct you have to avoid opening the game up to too many stoppages.

“No matter what happens there are always going to be arguments about actual decisions particularly at this time of year.

“This is about looking at the ways that we can reduce those arguments without affecting the game.”

The Committee today was also strongly of the view that the parameters under which a challenge could be made needed to be restricted.

While they believed it was worth experimenting with the concept to test how models may work there was a strong belief that it would not be possible to look at such a significant change in the context of next season’s Telstra Premiership.

“We have identified a Toyota Cup match in round 26 between the Titans and the Sea Eagles and that will give us an opportunity to see a challenge system in action,” Mr McGuirk said.

“It is a long way from moving to anything further but it does give clubs and fans a chance to see how a system may work.”

The Competition Committee also today received a briefing on the research being carried out in relation to the use of the ‘shoulder charge’ in Rugby League.

Further analysis is underway and a report will be prepared for the Commission later this year.

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