Ahead of the 2020 NRL season, the organisation has announced a handful of new rules which will be enforced from the start of the campaign in the spring – some of which could feasibly change the sport in a big way.
One of those changes sees the introduction of the 20/40 rule which will operate in a similar way to the existing 40/20. When an attacking team kicks the ball from within their own 20m line to within their opponent’s 40m, the attacking team will be awarded a tap.
Teams will also now be able to choose where they feed a scrum. Currently, there is no room for manoeuvre in this but, as of the 2020 campaign, the team in possession will have five seconds to inform the officials whether they want to feed the scrum 10m from the sideline, 20m or in centrefield, giving the attacking team an increased scope to put on set piece plays.
The rule focussed on when the ball hits a non-player on the pitch has also been tweaked and, whereas it previously would have resulted in a scrum for the attacking team, the officials will now be able to take the play back and resume from the previous play the ball.
The NRL has also banned the act of tackling a player in mid-air, regardless of whether the player initiating contact is the attacker or defender, in line with the current international laws of the game.
There is also scope to tweak further rules with the suggestion that the competition intends to limit the time trainers can spend on the field of play while the game is going on. As well as this, the ARL commission also endorsed the introduction of a ‘challenge’ system for general-play, something NRL management will further look at ahead of the upcoming season. It could lead to teams being allowed one challenge per match.