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Former Super League referee says rules are ‘dividing players, coaches and fans’

For the most part rugby league is a very simple game and that simplicity is what can make it most appealing at times, however the introduction of new rules or the amendment of others is something that does happen from time to time.

The Six Again rule is a prominent recent introduction, brought in to offset the number of penalties given that were deemed by fans to slow the game down too much.

Some will now argue that the opposite is the case with Super League and the sport in general seemingly faster than ever before, in part down to the rule and then in part due to the development of the athletes playing.

Either way it can become a minefield when changing rules with a recent controversial issue being the tackling technique employed by John Asiata.

The Leigh Leopards skipper has been one of the standout players this season, a true ball playing thirteen who has been essential in the Leopards efficient attack.

It was his tackles in the Challenge Cup semi final that sparked debate though with the loose forward going low on some of Saints big men, chopping them down around the knee and ankles.

The consequences were that both Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi were ruled out for the season with Walmsley given a three month time scale, and Passi a ninth month rehab time.

Paul Wellens called the technique out and the fallout saw the RFL confirm that nothing in the laws prevented the style of tackle, but it would be reviewed at the end of the year when changes can be made potentially.

One ex Super League official has now questioned the differing views between one ref from and another, as well as the vast difference in how certain things are penalised in the NRL compared to Super League.

Ian Smith tweeted: “Goes to show that in both the NRL and SL competitions high tackles are difficult to judge them exactly the same, these two plus the Roosters one are dividing players, coaches and fans alike, so not easy for the refs and VR’s to be 100% consistent without clear guidance.”

The specific sentence of rules and laws ‘dividing players, coaches and fans’ shows how difficult it can be to change just one aspect of a rule, and with the current focus on preventing high shots for player safety that confusion could be expected to continue.

He then elaborated on the rules differences between the competitions.

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