NRL announce sweeping rule changes

The NRL announced a raft of rule changes with a strong focus on stamping out time-wasting for the 2014 season.


The changes include structured times when a captain can speak to a referee during a match and stopping the clock during the last five minutes of a game following a conversion or penalty shot at goal.

Changes have also been made to deter crusher and cannonball tackles.

Crusher tackles will be graded at the “higher end” of charges by the match review committee, while referees have been instructed to call held earlier when a player is trapped in an upright position to prevent a third defender coming in late and making a cannonball tackle.

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said the changes were made after consultation with coaches, clubs and 11,000 members and fans who responded to an online review.

“These changes will enhance entertainment for fans and increase safety for players,” Greenberg said.

Under the captain’s rule, a skipper can only talk to a referee during a stoppage in play and as players leave the field for the halftime break.

But penalties and scrums are not deemed to be considered breaks in play.

More changes include, a zero tackle from a 20-metre restart to provide an extra tackle to discourage tactical kicks and negative play when the ball is kicked dead to slow down the game and deny wingers and fullbacks the chance to return kicks.

Also, the team that performs a 40/20 kick will restart play with a tap instead of a scrum, while a handover will now be awarded when the ball is kicked out on the full.

While during the last minutes of a game, the clock will stop following a conversion or penalty kick at goal until play restarts at halfway.

Quick taps will now be permitted on any infringement except 10-metre (offside) penalties, where the referee issues a caution or is within 10 metres of the opposition goal line.

The change encourages more continuous play.

Under a new goal-kicking time limit, the referee will call time off at approximately one minute and 20 seconds following a try.

Fines will still apply to clubs when a player takes longer than one minute and 40 seconds to take a conversion.

The ARL Commission has also approved the continued trial of the Captain’s Challenge concept in televised Under 20s matches.