Innovations for sport in 2020

COVID-19 has meant that everything in life has changed this year and sport is no exception. With seasons and start dates suspended it has meant innovative thinking to get sport up and running. 2020 will always be write off in many ways, so administrators should try things – if they don’t work out - go back to normality for 2021. Here's a couple of ideas...

Current rule for 2020: Rugby League – '6 again rule'

It’s a subjective rule and the criticism is will the referee use it for all 80 minutes and what happens in a game when a team may have preferred the 2 point option. Then again referees generally put the whistle away late in the game when it’s close. However most fans see it as a major positive as the speed of the game has increased dramatically and meant more entertaining for us fans. 'Six again' is one method of eradicating the wrestle in the ruck. Another positive is if a side is trailing, it can gain momentum and it’s very easy to score back-to-back points. A final thought – will the increase in speed lead to more injuries – especially as players had a large break and many have baulked up? Time will tell.

It’s coming: Netball – ‘two goal super shot’

Our household watches a lot of netball! My wife is an elite regional player and I’m a coach. Earlier in the year for the charity relief match and in pre-season 'fast 5', the sport trialled the ‘two goal super shot’ and it was just announced that when the season commences on August 1 that it will be included in Suncorp Super Netball. The basic concept is in the final 5 minutes of each quarter (15 minutes in length), goal shots from long range are worth two points. Traditionalists and current players are opposed to the rule with general feedback that it is too short of notice for clubs to adapt but personally I love the concept for two reasons:

1. Sides will have to be creative with their play rather than just go long every time to a Fowler (198cm), Aiken (196cm), Bassett (196cm), etc. type of player. The game might see the return of players in the ilk of Hall of Famers like McMahon and Wilson who were both in the high 170cm range and relied on skill and accuracy, not necessarily their height.

2. When a team is well behind, shooting ‘long range’ for the two points allows the opportunity to play high risk catch up to be more competitive – similar to a basketball team chasing 3 pointers rather than lay ups.

Regardless of whether you like the rule or not, with the announcement coming six weeks before the season commences it has got those in sport talking about netball – which is only a good thing!

Two goal super shot is here! Source: Wide World of Sports

AFL - Stop flirting and just do it? Super Goal!

I’m not sure how long the AFL has been running the 9 point 'super goal' idea. Simply, anytime the ball is kicked from outside 50 it is worth an extra 3 points compared to a regular goal but it’s a great idea and might be time to bring it into the season regular.

Rugby Union – they won't be brave enough for this - make a penalty outside the 22 worth 2 points!

'A good game of running rugby beats the other three football codes in Australia' – the only problem with this saying is that happens about 5% of the time at Super Rugby/International level. An easy fix to encourage attacking play is to minimise the incentive to kick penalty goals. If an offence occurs in the attacking 22 then I would still leave it as 3 points, if you want those easy points, but outside this zone, make it worth two points and encourage kicking for touch or the old quick tap. It would make way for more points and more entertainment.

These kicks are good but at what cost to some running rugby?

Many years ago I read a stat that there is more timeouts in rugby union than there is of actual play. Duel international Brad Thorn also made reference to the slow speed of union when he returned to rugby league and said he needed to be much fitter as he couldn’t get his breathers waiting for line outs, scrums or penalty kicks. More play, more entertainment should equal more fans, right? Something union desperately needs after a 15+ year period of decline!


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