Marshall: Time for golden point in rugby?

04:30, May 06 2013
Chris Heighington
IN THE THICK OF IT: Chris Heighington of the Sharks gets his pass away under pressure from the Knights' defence. The Sharks won the game with a golden point.

I know this might upset a few diehard rugby fans, but I'd like to see our game follow the lead of league and do away with draws.

Golden point is one thing in rugby league I thoroughly enjoy. Do we really want a draw? It's one of those situations where everybody leaves feeling less than satisfied.

When I was involved in draws I always felt a little deflated about the result. I played to win. Not to draw. So why not go on and find a winner?

Watching the Force and Reds play out that draw on Saturday night got me thinking - why shouldn't the Force have the chance to go on and get the upset they'd worked so hard for?

Ask any player if they're happy with a draw. The answer will be no. I always felt if you're beaten by a better opponent on the day, fair enough. If at the end of 80 minutes of brutal rugby the scores are level, nothing is settled.

The NRL has led the way with their golden point extra time. It's exciting, the whole crowd lifts, there's sudden-death coming up, players have a few minutes to catch their breath and decide what game-plan to go in with.


Imagine it in rugby. Do you go for a dropped goal, or maybe a try off a driving maul, or look to work to a scrum if you're dominant there?

A lot of thought goes into it, and it's like you're playing a World Cup final. There's high stakes, high pressure and it brings out the best in players.

I don't think rugby should be bashful about borrowing from the 13-man code. There are elements of league we've copied and vice versa. That's why we see a league influence in our defence coaches, in run-around plays, second-man plays and some lines run by backs. There's plenty we've learnt from them.

It goes both ways, too. I remember in London bumping into Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, and he was looking at rugby clubs, gathering information.

But in the case of draws - and we've already had a few this season in Super Rugby - maybe we could look at what league have adopted so successfully.

There's been a lot of talk about our supposedly out-of-form All Blacks, and I've got some sympathy for Steve Hansen here.

Sometimes All Blacks are victims of circumstances. The Highlanders haven't been functioning well, and a lot of focus has gone on the All Blacks in that team.

But you're never going to shine when your team is struggling.

Opposition teams target the internationals in their game plans because they're the most influential players. Especially the ones in key positions.

So you put emphasis on them, and often that means double-tackling, rushing up on defence to cut down time and doing all sorts of things to unsettle them.

So when you're a top player in a team not going well it can look like you're not performing but it's just a snowball effect of what's happening all round you.

It's not a coincidence that players perceived to be in mediocre form are in teams with up-down form cycles, like the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders. The Chiefs and Blues are a lot more consistent and, funnily enough, their players are not under the same scrutiny.

I know people will say the reason those teams aren't winning is because All Blacks aren't performing - and it's a relevant view - but players can't become too individual because coaches want skills showcased within the team system.

I do not question the commitment of these players. An All Black is under the most pressure because everyone wants what you have, and it's at your peril if you believe the jersey is yours by right.

There are suggestions some players are cruising or preserving themselves because they believe they'll be picked regardless. I don't buy that.

When you're an All Black every week, whatever level you're playing at, there's a standard to be upheld. Every player wants to show why they're the best player in the country.

So to say Israel Dagg, Ma'a Nonu, Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock are no longer worthy is just wrong. I think they'll show why they're All Blacks in that environment, and Hansen knows it.

Hansen's challenge is for the All Blacks to continue to be dominant and I'm sure his selections will be based on players he knows can produce in that environment. It's remiss of people to challenge his selections until the All Blacks are failing.

Not that I'm against debate around All Black selections. That's the nature of who we are as a society of rugby-loving people, and long may it continue.

But one binding thing we all have is when the All Blacks finally run out we support them whole-heartedly, no matter who's in the jerseys.

Fairfax Media