sport

Coaches back rule changes

Super League coaches Brian McDermott and Richard Agar have given their "thumbs up" to the experimental rule changes trialled on Boxing Day.

But the Rugby Football League have been criticised over their introduction.

The changes were formulated by the RFL's laws committee and put into practice during the Leeds-Wakefield festive challenge at Headingley, as well as the Batley-Dewsbury derby.

The option for teams to reduce the numbers in a scrum was largely ignored at Headingley, where one man was sent off and four others were sin-binned, and there was no instance of the ball being kicked dead from before halfway, which would have resulted in a 40-metre restart.

However, there was a clear example at Leeds of the proposal to continue the tackle count in the event of a charge-down and Wakefield scored one of their tries after being given the advantage to play on following a handling error by their opponents.

Wildcats boss Agar was full of praise for Danny Cowling's speculative kick, following a loss of possession by Leeds on halfway, which set up a score for full-back Richard Mathers.

"It's a free shot and a terrific example of how it's going to work," Agar said. "It's a rule I feel should be a positive one.

"It could get messy sometimes with play coming back 50 or 60 metres and slowing the game up but in terms of trying things and producing more attacking rugby we should give it a go.

"Rugby league has always been a sport that is not afraid to put its neck on the line and be a bit innovative and I'm all for that."

Leeds boss McDermott said: "I like the new rules. The punishment for a charge-down if it doesn't come off has always been heavily weighted towards the team with the ball.

"The added man from the scrum will take some getting used to. I don't think there is a play out there just yet that will get the defence."

Agar claimed his club was not told of the experimental rules until just before their final training session and, therefore, did not have enough time to prepare for them.

"We didn't know about them until Friday," he said. "We would have tried some things around them had we had more time.

"Certainly I applaud the RFL for trying them and this was the right game in which to do it but the way it was communicated was wrong.

"We should know, then the players could have a say and the fans should know a bit earlier than they did so they could go away and debate it.

"There's a lot of senior, highly-paid management at the RFL who forgot to tell us which I find a bit disappointing."

The RFL say details of the experimental changes were presented to the autumn meeting of the RL Council and their impact will be assessed in the new year before any decision is taken on their future implementation.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, who chairs the laws committee, said: "Christmas friendlies are the perfect opportunity to trial changes such as these and I would like to thank all four clubs for their willingness to participate in the experiment."