Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson believes the game’s lawmakers need to take another look at the rule book when it comes ‘six-again’ calls.
Introduced during the COVID-19 Pandemic in both Super League and the NRL, the law was intended to speed things up, and to prevent officials from having to stop the game as often for ruck infringements amongst other things.
Signalled by the waving of the referee’s right hand above their head, and a loud blast of the hooter, the rule does what it says on the tin and hands the attacking team a fresh set of six.
Unlike the NRL though, the RFL haven’t enforced any changes to the law since it was introduced, and that’s a bugbear for Watson who first spoke about it after last Sunday’s defeat to St Helens before explaining his qualms further earlier on today.
‘I just think it’s a ridiculous rule’ – Ian Watson
He said: “Obviously I spoke out after the game about the six-again rule on the first tackle. I just think it’s a ridiculous rule. In the NRL, it’s a penalty, and there’s no deterrent in this competition for you to just pile four men in and lie on in that first tackle.
“[By doing that], you get a completely set defensive line and you can organise your defence to make sure you can read what your opponents are doing in attack, so there’s no advantage.
“It slows the game down, it’s not what the six-again rule was made to do. In the NRL, if you do that on the first tackle you get a penalty against you, and you are now defending your goal-line, so there’s a deterrent in there in the NRL whereas there isn’t one in Super League. It 100% needs looking at that rule.”
Criticism of ‘six-again’ rule
Giants chief Watson is far from alone in his criticism of the rule, the latest head coach to bring it under scrutiny.
Three years ago when it was introduced, before Watson’s time at the club began, Huddersfield were involved in the second Super League game to have the law enforced. They took on Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling game which actually went to golden point, the Rhinos running out 27-26 winners.
Then-Giants boss Simon Woolford spoke before that match of his concern around the rule. Meanwhile, Catalans Dragons boss Steve McNamara – whose side played in the first Super League game with ‘six-again’ enforced against St Helens – was disappointed with the timing of its introduction.
Salford Red Devils boss Paul Rowley meanwhile led calls to scrap the law from the game entirely alongside then-Leeds chief Richard Agar, admitting he thought we would be better off without it.
There have been supporters of the rule though, including Warrington Wolves forward Joe Philbin. Shortly after the competition resumed in 2020 during the pandemic, and had the law introduced, he told us it would improve the game and that the Wire had actually been trying to replicate calls during training sessions.