Sweeping Rugby League law changes on the way?

Date published: 12 June 2020

Sweeping changes may be made to Rugby League rules next month, all designed to make the sport safer for players from the dangers of Covid-19.

League bosses are determined to take every possible precaution in the event of a resumption of the 2020 season in the weeks ahead.

Clubs will consider proposals from the RFL's Laws Committee with a view to their adoption at the next RFL Board meeting in July.

The biggest change would see the abolition of scrums if and when the pandemic-ravaged 2020 campaign gets the green light to start up again in August.

This would apply to all games for the remainder of this season, pending further clarification by Public Health England.

Medical experts have presented evidence that a scrum-free game would reduce the threat of Covid-19 transmission among players.

The Laws Committee has also proposed adoption of:

* The 'six again' rule - already used in Australia - in which most ruck offences are penalised by a restart of the penalty count rather than a normal penalty and a stoppage in play.

* A play-the-ball restart, rather than a scrum, when a team kicks out on the full and also when there's a mutual infringement such as the ball hitting the referee or a trainer.

* Restrictions on the legal point of contact by a third defender into an upright tackle, which must be over the knee.

RFL boss Ralph Rimmer said: "These are unprecedented times which present the game with unique challenges.

"The recommendation to adopt a number of rule changes that have already been introduced in the NRL (Australia) will also assist in the important process of aligning rules across both hemispheres."

The 15-strong Laws Committee included referees' boss Steve Ganson; Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester; BBC reporter Dave Woods, representing the media; Super League chief executive Robert Elstone; Batley Bulldogs chief executive Paul Harrison; Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall; and Oldhamer Paul Sculthorpe, the England Partnership coach.

Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), meanwhile, has launched the build-up to next year's big event in this country, which starts in October next year at St James Park, Newcastle when England take on Samoa.

It will be three World Cup events in one with men's, women's and wheelchair competitions taking place at the same time.

England and Australia men, two fancied teams in the men's tournament, will be based in Manchester.

Other teams, including men's, women's and wheelchair outfits, will be accommodated in Bolton, Liverpool, St Helens, Preston, Warrington, Wigan, Leigh, Doncaster, Hull, Leeds, London, Newcastle, Sheffield, Tees Valley and York.

RLWC2021 chief Jon Dutton said: "All hosts are proud of their communities so all competing teams will be guaranteed a warm welcome and we're asking our hosts to adopt the incoming nations and treat them as their own.

"Our tournament identity, which has togetherness at its core, is a signpost to hope, optimism and expectation for all that's to come in 2021 as we continue to build momentum towards what promises to be the biggest and best-ever Rugby League World Cup."

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