NRL announces 2021 rule changes

NRL announces rule changes to make game more entertaining (Fri 11 Dec 2020, 11:04 AM)

The NRL has announced several rule changes for the 2021 Telstra Premiership season to make the game “faster, more free-flowing, entertaining and unpredictable”.

Among the changes are the introduction of a two-point field goal for kicks taken 40 metres out; six-again to be called for 10-metre infringements; penalties for teams if they leave a scrum before a referee calls “break”; a play-the-ball restart if the ball or player goes into touch.

The Bunker will now review replays after an on-field referee awards a try but a conversion attempt will not be allowed until it gets the green light; injured players will be interchanged if a trainer ask for play to be stopped; when a captain’s challenge is inconclusive a team will not be docked for an unsuccessful attempt; and a handover will be ordered when a player does not make a genuine attempt to play the ball correctly with their foot.

The ARL Commission met on Friday morning to discuss recommendations put forward from Monday’s innovation committee meeting.

Chaired by ARL Commission member Wayne Pearce, the committee was made up of chairman Peter V’landys, head of football Graham Annesley, veteran coaches Craig Bellamy and Ricky Stuart, referee Matt Cecchin, as well as current internationals Luke Keary and Damien Cook.

V’landys said these innovations would lead to “less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans”.

The increase of field goals to two points will be a major talking point for fans.

Field goals were worth two points up until 1971 when they were reduced to one in an attempt to reduce the proliferation of attempts from players such as legendary Rabbitohs fullback Eric Simms.

Under this new rule, a team trailing by two points could look to kick a long-range field goal to force extra time or potentially, if a side is down by one, a kicker could take a chance to go for the lead.

The rule changes

:black_small_square: Two 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 two-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.

:black_small_square: 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.

:black_small_square: Scrums

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.

:black_small_square: 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.

:black_small_square: Captain’s Challenge

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 challenges available later in matches.

:black_small_square: Bunker Reviews

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.

:black_small_square: Trainers

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.

What are your thoughts on the rule changes for the 2021 NRL Season?

I have trouble keeping up with these seasonal changes and in most cases would refrain from comment till I see 'em in action.

a 2 point field goal (albeit it from 40m) back to the future !!!.
maybe some of these blokes will wake up to the fact there was
nothing wrong with a field goal in the first place. So why not a five point try, isn’t that what we like to see, tries?


All those brains, and none of them can see that one of the biggest time wasters is the time taken to kick for goal, when it suits the team doing the kick of course.
There used to be a fine for taking too long, but haven’t heard of one for a long time.

It is really easy. Start the shot clock from the time the try is awarded or the penalty blown, and if the kick is not in the air when the buzzer goes, the kick doesn’t count. I’m happy for 60 or maybe 90 seconds.
No fun & games with the kicking tee, water bottles, socks, mouthguard etc, just take the ball back to the mark & kick the damn thing. It’s amazing how fast the kickers can take the kick when they are behind and the game clock is running out.

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WOW - This reeks of Rugby Onion

With the field goal, their should be an added deterrent so this only attempted in desperate times to avoid the Rugby scenario. If you attempt a 2 point field goal and miss, the opposition get the ball back from where the attempt was made.

The scrum…at what point does the ref penalize the team who have the ball under the locks foot for a minute trying to gain advantage…isn’t that slowing the game via tactics? Here’s a solution, and i’ve said this many times, he who feeds it, must receive it, thus keeping the lock locked. A lock cannot hold the ball in the scrum for longer than ‘x’ (3 secs?) time.

Q. how is repacking a scrum after a penalty for a scrum infringement speeding up the game?

Trainers will sacrifice what they need to in order for their team to “catch their breath” - replaced and or off for 2 minutes. How long do you think a player will take to get off the field whilst only incurring a 2 minute penalty of 12 men…EVERY TEAM will allow/adopt this tactic if the game warrants it.

I actually like the 2 point field goal, will be interesting how it plays out.

The injury interchange however is unworkable. If it’s a free interchange Cam Smith will be injured 2 mins out of every 10, to get a free 2 minute breather. It’s so open to abuse. If no free interchange then how is it meant to work?

I like the limited time for set kicks.

How about we also crack down on dummy half toward passes and attacking players standing forward of the ruck, things that piss me off no end (again Cam Smith is a big culprit lol).

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With penalties, the ref signals the reason. With 6-agains, the typical response from dumb fans like me is “what the f@&k was that given for?”. Maybe I miss the signals, but a reason needs to be given.

They won’t give a reason because the determining factor is different minute 5 to minute 25 to minute 60. The ref now gets to determine momentum without scrutiny.

Rather than a 15 - 13 penalty count to even things up, allowing the ref to be lambasted for slowing the game, we will see 11 - 9 six agains, problems is, the side that gets the 6 again advantage in the first 30 minutes will have the ascendancy for the remainder of the game. It’s akin to defending your line for 4 sets of 6 then losing a player to the bin for offside.

The thing I hate about this rule is - Take any game in round 6 and say 16, or any game throughout the season proper with Sutton in charge, then measure that vs the first round of finals - THEN review the GF and tell me if the ref decision making on 6 again calls was relative across all his games - The answer is Noooooo - and the Storm played to that expectation and won :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

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