The golden point system has been a source of debate from the very first round of games under the rule.
Introduced in 2003, golden point was designed to do away with ‘boring draws’ and come up with a more exciting way to finish games. One of the oft-used arguments against drawn games was that no one came away from a draw feeling happy – it was more like both sides lost. This in itself is a load of rubbish.
Don’t tell me that the 12th-placed Balmain side of 1993 felt like they had a loss when they travelled to Canberra to take on the second-placed Raiders in a game they were expected to be flogged in. With 15 minutes remaining, the Tigers were down 32-12, but scored four tries in the next 10 minutes before Tim Brasher landed an amazing 76th-minute sideline conversion to level the scores 32-all.
Since its inception there have now been 94 games that have gone into golden point. Thirteen have ended in draws, while 53 of the remaining 81 games have been decided by a field goal; only 18 golden point tries have been scored.
After Round 1 in 2003, Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett slammed the concept, despite his side beating Penrith 24-20 in regulation time and not requiring golden point. His criticism then was that it was far too hot to force players to play an extra 10 minutes in those conditions. He has been consistent in his criticism of the rule ever since, and the implementation of golden point in finals matches – instead of 20 minutes of extra-time – bit him hardest of all when his Broncos lost the 2015 grand final in golden point.
The most frequent argument against it is one that resonates most: golden point doesn’t bring any excitement to the games; in fact, it kills the atmosphere as teams stop all of their structures and desire to score tries to set themselves up for pot-shots at a field goal.
There is nothing exciting about four one-out hit-ups and then a field goal attempt.
Many commentators had advocated for the introduction of a ‘golden try’ rule, but this is nothing more than a moderate improvement to the existing golden point rule. Also, it could be argued that it’s not entirely fair given that one team has to kick off, so the receiving side gets first advantage.
Essentially, this idea still puts too much of the result of a coin toss.
However, there is a simpler system which was used to decide important fixtures for a long time without criticism.
If you want exciting, here’s your answer. Ten minutes of extra-time. Doesn’t matter who scores first or how; what matters is what the scoreline reads after the extra 10 minutes.
It will do away with boring back-and-forth failed field goal attempts. It will entice teams to throw the ball around. It will bring out second phase play and bring skilled players to the fore at a time, thanks to the reduced interchange, of even more tired forwards.
It may not appease the likes of Bennett, but it will certainly serve the initial purpose of making games locked up after 80 minutes more exciting.
**This article appeared on the Commentary Box Sports website**