Obstruction rule

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Referees to Use More Judgement
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 - 2:33 PM

A phone hook up between NRL refereeing officials and Telstra Premiership club coaches has recommended that referees continue to strongly police the issue of ‘decoy runners’ but that there should be changes to the ‘interpretations’ used to adjudicate ‘obstructions’ in the Telstra Premiership.

The conference call was unanimous in the view that ‘obstruction’ remained a challenging area for the game and one that would inevitably leave referees having to make subjective calls in determining whether defending teams are unfairly disadvantaged by the use of decoy runners.

It was accepted that the referees needed to remain strong in monitoring the use of decoy runners, rather than risk opening a flood gate that would allow ‘blocking plays’ to become a feature of the game.

Concerns around this area in the game last year led to a change in the interpretation of the rule which included situations in which players did not necessarily have to have made contact with the defensive line.

Referees will now place greater emphasis on whether they believe a defender has been impeded or not.

The coaches have in turn agreed that they need to accept the referee needs to be respected for having to make judgment calls in this area.

“There was genuine attempt from all parties last year to be more prescriptive and to provide clearer guidelines about the mechanics of what could and could not lead to an obstruction call,” Referees Coach Robert Finch said today.

“What we’ve agreed is that you can’t try and be too prescriptive and that coaches, players and fans have to accept that some things need to come down to the judgment of the referee or the video referee.

“There may still be some debate in this area, but for referees the deciding factor will be whether they believe a player who was in a position to make a tackle was impeded.”

The following amendments will be made to the 2007 Key Indicators:


Point 1

Current interpretation:

“The ball carrier cannot run behind a decoy runner and gain an advantage regardless of any contact between the decoy and the defence”

This interpretation has been eliminated and the current interpretation as per the Laws of the Game will be enforced:

Section 2 Glossary –

“Obstruction is an illegal act of impeding an opponent who does not have the ball.”

Point 2

Current interpretation

“It is the responsibility of the decoy runner/s NOT to interfere with the defending team.”

This interpretation remains with the following understanding:

“Any attacking player/s who is in front of the ball must make every endeavour not to interfere with the defending team.”

All other points set out in the 2007 Key Indicators remain unchanged.

Important Note:

In assessing whether obstruction has occurred the referee or video referee will make a judgment call as to whether any defender or defenders were prevented from getting to the ball carrier by the player or players from the attacking team who are in front of the ball.

Source: NRL

:clap: :clap: :clap:


First Grader
Coaches need to alter their attacking slightly and the problem goes away. Scott Prince showed a perfect example the other day. He ran in front of 2 decoy runners who came back on the inside and he showed the ball to both of them. It has the same effect without the obstruction.


Kim Jong Dan
Staff member
Tipping Member
that sounds a bit better but doesnt give us the points back we could have had!


Journey Man
It still sounds like it will reward a bad reads in defence as long as you are impeded ie if thier is contact but an improvement.


Winging it
Harrigan, as a referee co-ordinator, was vey clear a week ago that the rule should be interpreted that way, and then last weekend we get statements from the ref boss and bleating coaches that the rule is stamped as the 11th commandment and any decoys used results in a penalty. Bull****. Get your acts together you idiots as the game is being ruined.

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