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NRL holds tight on rules - but adds one tweak to promote 'unpredictability of the game'

17th January, 2024
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17th January, 2024
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The NRL has announced that the rules of the game will stay roughly the same for another year, with only the restarts after dropouts set to change.

With almost every club favouring short dropouts in 2023, the punishment for failing to make 10m or sending the ball out on the full has been lessened, with a tap now the restart rather than a full penalty in front of the posts.

The tap will be taken from 10m away from the kick and 10m in from touch – for example, a kick off that goes out will take place on the 40m line, where previously it would have been a penalty that could have been kicked deep into enemy territory.

In the statement that accompanied the announcement, rules chief Graham Annesley revealed that the decision was done to incentivise short restarts, both kick-offs and dropouts.

“While relatively minor, this change will add to the unpredictability of the game,” he said. 

“Teams will no longer risk conceding significant territory as well as a penalty for attempting to regain possession from restarts of play. 

“We undertook a thorough review of the 2023 season, including consultation with the NRL Clubs, the RLPA and other stakeholders, and while there was a strong desire to keep changes to a minimum, this minor change will incentivise short kick-offs and drop-outs. 

“This will strongly accompany the Commission’s direction to enhance the existing rules, leading to a faster, more free-flowing and unpredictable game.” 

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The minor changes mark the third season with roughly the same rules after three years of massive change.

The introduction of the Six Again rule in 2020 sparked a flurry of changes that ratcheted up scoring, before being brought back with the limitation of set restarts to only the attacking 60% of the pitch.

There have been other major interpretation changes, notably around high tackles and hip-drops, which have increased the amount of sin bins and send offs.

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