September 28, 2021

Carney: Would quarters work in RL?

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Brian Carney

Rugby League Expert & Columnist

Last Updated: 07/08/20 11:49am

Brian Carney ponders whether splitting games into quarters would work in rugby league Brian Carney ponders whether splitting games into quarters would work in rugby league

Brian Carney ponders whether splitting games into quarters would work in rugby league

Sky Sports rugby league presenter Brian Carney wonders whether it is time for rugby league to look at splitting matches into quarters rather than the traditional two halves…

I’ve watched the drinks break come into football’s Premier League, which is for about one minute halfway through each half.

It was brought in for health and safety reasons with the players coming off a long period of inactivity and expecting to be playing in heat they’re not used to.

I don’t feel it took away from the game in any way, shape or form, but it got me thinking as to whether we should be looking at something more formal in rugby league?

What I mean by that is: we currently play in two halves, and all the talk is of how we must speed the game up and keep the ball in play for as long as possible.

Theoretically, in an ideal world, a half would last for a frantic 40 minutes of action, then we’d have half time and do it again.

For people viewing at home and watching in the stadium, their entertainment extends beyond the whistle to whistle period because there is the travel to the game, meeting your friends beforehand, half time, the walk to your car afterwards – and all that is part of the match-day experience.

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But I thought: would it be such a bad thing if people’s experience was extended a bit longer?

The suggestion I have is to look at perhaps playing in quarters. Have your frantic, ball-in-play-almost-every-second-of-the game non-stop action for 20 minutes, then have something like a four or five, or even 10-minute break, which brings possible commercial benefits for the clubs and the competition as a whole.

Then play another 20 minutes, have a slightly longer half time, third quarter followed by a five-minute break and the fourth and final quarter.

As well as possible commercial benefits, you’re extending the experience of both the viewers at home and people going to games.

I’m only throwing it out there, it’s something to consider and people may reply it’s a terrible idea for these reasons. But I’d be very interested to hear what people thought about that.

Brian Carney on playing matches in quarters

Importantly, for the players, at the moment you’re asking them to play 40 frenetic minutes and, if it continues in the way people making the rule changes are suggesting, you’re looking at a different body shape coming to the fore – and perhaps the extinction of a particular species.

I think that would be shame. Let’s take Sam Kasiano, for example; is there a place for the 6’4″ 120kg player in this idealised new world?

If we were playing in quarters, I don’t think that would be so much of an issue. Don’t forget, we’re also going towards a suggested reduced interchange in time which would put even more pressure on players.

I watch a lot of rugby union and they pride themselves on having a position for every body shape. Rugby league players are far more homogeneous looking as an athlete compared to a union team.

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So, there is another added benefit in that you would keep big, explosive players who don’t necessarily have great engines in the game.

I’m only throwing it out there, it’s something to consider and people may reply it’s a terrible idea for these reasons. But I’d be very interested to hear what people thought about that.

From a match-day experience, would you be happy to watch 20-odd minutes of action, have five minutes to get a refreshment, stretch your legs, absorb what you’ve seen and go for another 20 minutes?

From a coach’s perspective too, tactically it could open it up. If a team is in full flow and scores four consecutive tries, would that kill what they had going for them and would it allow the other team to recover?

It all adds to the intrigue of the game and I’d be very interested to know people’s perspectives.