The NRL has today announce massive rule changes that will be implemented for the 2021 season.
The Australian Rugby League Commission has approved the changes, many of which will divide fans.
The changes are:
2 points for field goals outside the 40m line.
To encourage more unstructured play and increase the chances of a result changing in the final moments of a game, a 2-point field goal will be awarded for teams who kick a field goal from outside the 40m line. The new rule will provide an incentive to seek an additional point scoring opportunity at critical times of a match, particularly with limited time remaining on the clock in each half.
Six Again for 10 metre infringements
To reduce stoppages in the game, 10 metre infringement penalties will be replaced with a “Six Again” ruling. Referees maintain the ability to blow a penalty and sin bin a player if a side has made repeated 10m infringements or in the case of professional fouls. The “Six Again” rule provided a sufficient deterrent for teams who purposely sought a penalty to slow the game down during previous years. This rule was trialled in two games during round 20 of last season. This will result in a fast game, less stoppages and more free-flowing action for fans.
The Commission determined scrums are part of the game’s DNA. To increase the integrity of scrums, the referee will call “BREAK” when he or she is satisfied the ball is out of a scrum. Players will not be permitted to break from a scrum until the referee makes the call. Where players break before the call of “BREAK”, the referee will award a full penalty. The team receiving the penalty will also have the option of re-packing the scrum. If the scrum is re-packed and players again break early a further penalty will be awarded and one of the offending players will be sent to the sin bin.
Play the ball restart after ball or player finds touch
When the ball is kicked or carried into touch play will resume with a play the ball rather than a scrum. This rule was trialled in two games during the final round of last season.
Handover for incorrect play the ball
A handover will be ordered where players do not make a genuine attempt to play the ball with their foot. This will ensure greater compliance to the rule and integrity around the play the ball, without increasing penalty stoppages.
In cases where a Captain’s Challenge review is inconclusive, the on-field decision will stand but the team will retain their challenge. Fans have expressed frustration with teams losing a challenge where replays prove inconclusive, this will ensure a greater opportunity for teams to have a challenges available later in matches.
Where the on-field referee believes a try is scored the referee will award a try and the bunker will review the decision in the background. A conversion attempt will not be permitted until the bunker is satisfied a try has been scored. This will ensure even less stoppage time and ensure momentum in the game continues. This rule was trialled in two games during the final round of last season.
In 2021, where a trainer asks a match official to stop the game for an injury, the injured player must be either interchanged or taken off the field for a period of two minutes of elapsed game time before he is permitted to resume his place on the field. This will reduce the number of stoppages for minor injuries.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys said the innovative rule changes would lead to faster games and more unpredictability.
“These innovations will lead to less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans,’’ he said.
“The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear; the game became too predictable and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence.
“Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further.”