NRL clubs set to demand league bosses change 'dog of a rule' that is 'killing the game'

The Sharks and Raiders were both left questioning the officials after their losses in Round 17.

NRL clubs are expected to demand changes to the six-again ruck infringement rule - or its complete abolishment – following another weekend of controversy. There is growing resentment and confusion in the game over what constitutes a six-again and what doesn't, with no clear-cut guidelines for teams or fans to follow.

The rule, introduced in 2020, has helped speed up the game but its many critics say it's gone too far and the momentum created by six-again calls at the ruck is too great an advantage. Club bosses are set to take their concerns to the NRL at the end of the 2024 season and ask for significant tweaks to be made or have the rule removed altogether.

The Cronulla Sharks, pictured here in action during their loss to the Bulldogs.
The Cronulla Sharks were hit with a number of six-agains in the final minutes of their loss to the Bulldogs. Image: Getty/Channel 9

One NRL club official told Yahoo Sport Australia: "The six-again rule will definitely be on the agenda when we review the season. Most rules in rugby league are fairly black and white but this one is very grey. There is absolutely no consistency because it's so subjective. It's frustrating fans, players and coaches alike."

Following Canberra's 16-6 defeat to Melbourne on Saturday night, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart pointed out the extra defensive workload his team was forced to endure on the back of a series of six-again calls. He accused referees of making up calls on the run.

"We were just on the wrong side of the guessing game again. They're just guessing," Stuart said. "Those six-agains, they just guess. I'll give one away here, I’ll give one away there."

Ricky Stuart during a Canberra Raiders game.
Ricky Stuart isn't happy with the standard of NRL officiating. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

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Cronulla was also victim of a several contentious six-again calls in its golden point loss to Canterbury, with two fifth tackle infringements late in the game particularly telling. It left Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon perplexed.

He said: "Some were head scratchers to be perfectly honest. The six-agains…there was a couple we deserved, a couple not. It makes it hard. You get to tackle five and it goes again. They are fine margins and a cost to energy."

Veteran broadcaster Peter Peters is leading the call for change. "Craig Fitzgibbon, who rarely talks about referees, shook his head and said the six-agains are virtually killing the game – and they are," he told Sky Sports Radio. "It's a dog of a rule (and) the sooner we get rid of it the better. It was time something was done about it. It's a disaster."

The NRL made adjustments to the rule in 2022, allowing penalties instead of six-agains to be awarded for ruck or 10m infringements inside the 40m zone of the team in possession. But clubs remain upset by the interpretation of the rule and won't be unhappy to see it disappear from the game.