NRL Mailbox: Golden point

The NRL has received a number of emails and feedback questioning the use of golden point.

We have received a lot of feedback from fans regarding Golden Point extra-time in regular season games. People are suggesting a Golden Try to replace Golden Point in extra-time, and also that both teams need to get awarded points, amongst other things.

The first thing to note about Golden Point is that it is actually a continuation of the existing game. A field goal will determine the outcome of a game immediately before full-time and therefore has to be able to determine the outcome of a game immediately after full-time.

One of the fundamental things to remember in all of this is the workload on the players. Player workload is one of the key issues in the game. When the NRL first looked at having an extended time period, the point that was made strongly by people close to clubs and players is that extending the game by five or 10 minutes on a mandatory basis risked too much pressure on the players themselves over a season.

The nature of Golden Point is that it is meant to help produce a result in the shortest possible time frame. By nature, Golden Point games are games in which tries are not going to be easily produced. The concept of not determining the match until a try is scored could mean that a team is ahead on the scoreboard by having kicked a number of penalties or field goals but still loses the game.

The NRL has looked at this issue in consultation with the clubs many times over. It does not favour altering the nature of the game by removing players from the field nor does it favour fixed time periods. The Golden Point period is designed to play the game in the same circumstances as it is being played in previously and in those circumstances, a penalty or field goal immediately before full-time would produce the result.

The issue of creating extra points for drawn matches is one that causes an imbalance in the competition. Every match over the year should be for the same amount of competition points to give every team the same chance of making the finals. As such the idea of each team getting a point for a draw and then the Golden Point winner getting an additional point will unfairly impact on other clubs in the competition.

Also, the fact a match is won in extra time does not make a team more worthy of a competition point than a team who won convincingly in normal time.

If this concept is varied so that all matches are worth three points or four points (as some have suggested) and one of those goes to the defeated team, then it means that the winning side in a Golden Point gets a lesser reward in the competition than the team that wins in normal time. The circumstances that can lead to a match going into extra time are too varied to allow a determination that the winner is either more or less deserving of competition points than other winners in that round.

Ultimately this debate comes down to whether you accept a draw is a preferable result to a period of ‘sudden death’ extra-time.

What is hard to escape is that Golden Point has provided some memorable moments, whether it be Chris Sandow’s drop kick from halfway against the Roosters last season or Darren Lockyer during last year’s Finals Series. Few could forget Wayne Bennett’s reaction when the Broncos defeated Melbourne some years ago.

These are the moments that are more memorable than where two teams walked away on equal points.