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The NRL has announced a new range of rule changes for the 2020 season, with scrums, trainers, tackling and a new 20/40 kick set to be inducted into league’s new officiating strategy.

League CEO Todd Greenberg and head of football elite completions Graham Annesley announced the additions on Friday after the alterations were confirmed by the ARL Commission on Thursday.

The Commission also backed the introduction of a “challenge” system, with the league set release a final report of the operational details in February.

It will be likely that each team is given one unsuccessful challenge per match.

The new 20/40 kick rule will work in a similar fashion to the existing 40/20 rule.

The team in possession will be given a new set through a tap-kick if they manage to kick the ball from their own defensive 20-metre zone and find touch within the opposing sides 40-metre line.

The new scrum rule will see the feeding side have the option to set the scrum at three locations – 10 metres or 20 metres from the sideline or directly in the middle of the pitch.

Teams will be given five seconds to notify the referee where they will set their scrum.

The league has announced a change to the “mutual infringement” rule in regards to trainers or referee’s coming in contact with the ball.

The loose head and feed was previously awarded to the attacking team, but the new change will allow the match official to replay the previous play-the-ball, in the chance play is affected beyond the players control.

Adjustments have also been made surrounding players laying a tackle in midair, with the player initiating the contact – attacking or defensive – mirroring the guidelines of the current international laws.

The Commission is also looking into restricting the amount of time orange and blue shirt trainers can spend on the field. The constraints will be finalised in time for the Commissions February submission.

The Commission will also look to implement a trial for second-tier leagues to assess the outcome of teams requiring six players in a scrum when down to 12 players.

While discussions were held in the build up to the Commission meeting, there will be no changes to the scoring system for extra time wins.

The league’s Competition Committee and coaches hosted discussions last month for the approved changes.

Greenberg commented on the changes, ensuring the quality of the league was the key factor for the adjustments.

“We are constantly looking at ways to ensure the game is easier to officiate, and is also innovative and unpredictable,” Greenberg said.

“We certainly feel these changes will have a positive impact on the sport.”

Annesley further added reasoning to the new rules.

“There has been significant engagement with our fans, the Competition Committee as well as through the NRL coaches, the clubs, and the RLPA” Annesley said.

“Over 20,000 fans responded to an end-of-season survey, more than tripling the response to the 2018 online survey.

“We are constantly looking to evolve, and we believe these changes will lead to a more entertaining game for fans.

“The Competition Committee and the coaches all had the game as a spectacle at the heart of their discussions, along with other key considerations including player wellbeing and the impact on the sport at all levels, and that clearly aligns with the Commission’s overall vision for the sport.”


  1. Defensive midair tackle penalty will make it a bit safer, but will have a big negative effect, being there will be a lot more bombs to wingers.
    NRL need to offset this effect somehow.
    All these trys from bombs was already negative for the game.

  2. Allan Langer will be greatly disappointed with these trainer restrictions, as this will jeopardise his onfield coaching gametime & restrict his abilities to receive any future Dally M votes.

  3. The last time I looked, trainers on the pitch were banned while the ball was in play in the ESL. I know we have the added problem of heat exhaustion which they don’t have in the UK but surely there are enough opportunities to have a drink without trainers constantly being on the field. How’s about having drinks bins near the touch line and ban the trainers completely ?

  4. What is wrong with this site. So now you can’t even mention that refs make mistakes? What a nanny state website!

  5. Captains calls are fantastic. This is the best rule change of them all, however one per half is most imortant, not one per game. This takes any referee so called favouritism of a team out of the equation.

    Now if that 6 again grand final call was not correctly changed mid tackle. Then Tedesco could have informed Cordner that the ball did not touch him and the the referee would have viwed the video and given the ball over to the Roosters for a turnover, which they did in the grand final any way.

    Another grabd final captains call would have occured when Canberra knocked the ball on and recieved a penalty, resulting in that very next set of six of Cronk getting sin binned. A captains call would have shown Canberra knocked on and the Roosters would have been on the attack rather than Cronk being sin binned.

    Also Soliola from a captains call would have given away a penalty for attacking Keary’s legs when he kicked the ball sending him flying and the ball hitting the Roosters trainer in the head.

  6. That was exactly my thought mark. Too many refereeing errors for there to be only 1 captain call per game.

  7. And the question is who makes the final ruling on the captains call? If its the bunker then we are stuffed already. I can also imagine bernard sutton ruling on his brother gerards decisions. Again the captain would be stuffed even if he was in the right due to nepotism.

  8. Shame these rules weren’t in place 2019 GF which would have resulted in The Raiders as the rightful premiers.

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