NRL won’t commit to tripping crackdown

NRL referees boss Tony Archer has failed to commit to a crackdown on tripping, despite a spate of incidents this season.

Archer blamed the trend on the sped-up tempo of the game as calls grow for harsher punishments on trippers.

With three games to play in round 13, there have been 11 players charged by the match review committee with tripping in 2016.

The upward surge in players using their legs to bring down opponents has raised the ire of greats like Peter Sterling and Brad Fittler.

It has continued in recent weeks with Jason Nightingale, Isaac De Gois, Beau Scott and Shaun Johnson charged in the previous four rounds.

With an early guilty plea and no loading, a grade one tripping charge attracts just 56 penalty points meaning players who are charged are free to play the next week.

This has led some to question whether tougher penalties are necessary.

While Archer acknowledged the increase in the number of tripping charges, he did not commit to increasing penalties for the offence because he believed it was a reflex action and not an intentional attempt to harm an opposition player.

“The difficulty is most of the time players are being stepped, they are being wrong-footed and they stick the leg out,” Archer said on the Sunday Footy Show.

“Most of the ones this year is when players have been stepped and they’ve come back with the leg coming out. It may be a spin-off of fatigue on occasions and more broken field play.”

Melbourne star Billy Slater said while tripping was a blight on the game, it was difficult to crackdown because of the accidental nature of many of the incidents this year.

“It’s obviously very dangerous and outlawed in our game but it is a reaction, it’s not intentional,” Slater said.

“It’s just a reaction to being beaten by an opposing player and they’re trying to stop them.”

Archer also reiterated his support for whistleblowers Gerard Sutton and Ben Cummins and their performance in State of Origin I in the face of criticism from NSW coach Laurie Daley.

He said several controversial calls, including the one to deny Josh Morris a try, were correct.

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