Buzz’s verdict: Good and bad of NRL rule changes
The return of two-point field goals, a reduction in scrums and a crackdown on 10 metre offside play are among sweeping rule changes to be introduced for next year's NRL competition to make the game even faster and more furious.
The independent commission has today rubber-stamped a series of recommendations from the NRL's innovations committee that include two-point field goals for shots taken outside the 40m line.
In other key changes:
# Balls that go into touch will result in a play the ball rather than a scrum. The same will occur for players who are forced into touch to save the 30 seconds it takes to pack a scrum.
# All 10-metre off-side penalties will be replaced with a "Six Again" ruling, the same as with play-the-ball infringements.
# Players will be penalised for breaking from scrums early before the referee calls "break. Opening up huge attacking opportunities.
# And teams will not lose a captain's challenge if video evidence is inconclusive.
SEE ALL 2021 RULE CHANGES BELOW AND HAVE YOUR SAY IN OUR POLL
The field goal rule is the most controversial. It was 50 years ago in 1970 that field goals were reduced from two points to one.
The latest round of changes will ensure games have even more fatigue from next season.
The bunker adjudication process will also be altered when the referee believes a try has been scored.
Teams will line up the conversion while the decision is being reviewed, rather than stand around and waiting for countless replays.
"These innovations will lead to less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans,'' said independent commission chairman Peter V'landys.
"The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear; the game became too predictable and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence.
"Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further."
The NRL issued a statement to explain each change.
Two points for field goals outside the 40m line
NRL says: "To encourage more unstructured play and increase the chances of a result changing in the final moments of a game, a 2-point field goal will be awarded for teams who kick a field goal from outside the 40m line.
"The new rule will provide an incentive to seek an additional point scoring opportunity at critical times of a match, particularly with limited time remaining on the clock in each half."
Buzz says: This is an odd one. Can't see it being used too often. Not many NRL players have the skill to land field goals from that far out.
Six Again for 10 metre infringements
NRL says: "To reduce stoppages in the game, 10 metre infringement penalties will be replaced with a "Six Again" ruling. Referees maintain the ability to blow a penalty and sin bin a player if a side has made repeated 10m infringements or in the case of professional fouls.
"The "Six Again" rule provided a sufficient deterrent for teams who purposely sought a penalty to slow the game down during previous years. This rule was trialled in two games during round 20 of last season. This will result in a fast game, less stoppages and more free-flowing action for fans."
Buzz says: Great rule. More ball-in-play. More fatigue.
NRL says: "The Commission determined scrums are part of the game's DNA. To ensure the integrity of a scrum returns, the referee will call "BREAK" when he or she is satisfied the ball is out of a scrum.
"Players will not be permitted to break from a scrum until the referee makes the call. Where players break before the call of "BREAK", the referee will award a full penalty. The team receiving the penalty will also have the option of re-packing the scrum.
"If the scrum is re-packed and players again break early a further penalty will be awarded and one of the offending players will be sent to the sin bin."
Buzz says: Good call. Will create more attacking plays while forwards have to stay bound.
Play the ball restart
NRL says: "When the ball is kicked or carried into touch play will resume with a play the ball rather than a scrum. This rule was trialled in two games during the final round of last season."
Buzz says: Another great initiative to speed up the game without wasting 30 seconds on a scrum.
Handover for incorrect play the ball
NRL says: "A handover will be ordered where players do not make a genuine attempt to play the ball with their foot. This will ensure greater compliance to the rule and integrity around the play the ball, without increasing penalty stoppages."
Buzz says: Don't like it. Too subjective. Leads to inconsistency. All we want is a fast play-the-ball.
NRL says: "In cases where a Captain's Challenge review is inconclusive, the on-field decision will stand but the team will retain their challenge.
"Fans have expressed frustration with teams losing a challenge where replays prove inconclusive, this will ensure a greater opportunity for teams to have a challenges available later in matches."
Buzz says: I love it. Teams shouldn't lose a challenge on an inconclusive video replay.
NRL says: "Where the on-field referee believes a try is scored the referee will award a try and the bunker will review the decision in the background. A conversion attempt will not be permitted until the bunker is satisfied a try has been scored.
"This will ensure even less stoppage time and ensure momentum in the game continues. This rule was trialled in two games during the final round of last season."
Buzz says: Saves time. Good rule change.
NRL says: "In 2021, where a trainer asks a match official to stop the game for an injury, the injured player must be either interchanged or taken off the field for a period of two minutes of elapsed game time before he is permitted to resume his place on the field. This will reduce the number of stoppages for minor injuries."
Buzz says: Clever. Nothing worse than players feigning injuries, not that it happens all that often.
Originally published as Buzz's verdict: Good and bad of NRL rule changes