THE Rugby Football League (RFL) experimented with some new rules in the Heatshot Festive Challenge - but Wakefield Trinity Wildcats only found out a matter of days before.
Three new rules were in place for the clash, along with the derby between Dewsbury Rams and Batley Bulldogs on the same day, but Wildcats head coach Richard Agar had little time to work them into his side’s pre-match preparations.
The three rules were: a handover to the opposition on the 40m line after kicking the goal dead or in-goal from inside the kicking team’s own half; charging the ball down sees the tackle count continue, not restart if the kicking team regains the ball; and the feeding team has the option of only putting five men in a scrum to give them eight “backs” to attack with.
Agar “applauded” the RFL for trying the new rules out, but was left dismayed at the lack of communication for them.
“We knew about them on Friday and we knew about them because a stranger ran into me and told me. I followed it up and had it confirmed by the RFL,” he said.
“It was the game to try them but if it’s going to enhance the spectacle I think it’s a good idea to tell both teams.
“We would have tried some things around it, we would have tried some stuff from scrums, we’d have tried to defend a bit differently and we might have been able to see if indeed it does enhance the spectacle.
“We got to know before we had one team run left.”
He added: “There are a lot of senior, highly-paid management at the RFL that have missed this one and forgot to tell us which I find a little bit disappointing.”
Despite the lack of communication, Agar did praise the introduction and testing of the new rules during the match.
Wakefield made use of one, playing advantage following a handling error by Leeds and seeing Richie Mathers score a try following an “inventive” kick by Danny Cowling.
“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. I’m all for that.”
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