General Rule Changes 2021


Long live the Rainbows and Butterflies
May 8, 2012
Havent seen this anywhere else this year, so thought i would mention these "ahem" changes to the rules.

Some are pretty obvious, but the one i like is the one at the very end. The one about trainers.

Two points for field goals outside the 40-metre line​

To encourage more unstructured play and increase the chances of a result changing in the final moments of a game, a two-point field goal will be awarded for teams who kick a field goal from outside the 40-metre 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.

Six Again for 10-metre infringements​

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.


The ARL Commission determined scrums as part of the game’s DNA. To increase the integrity of scrums, the referee will call "break" when 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.

Play-the-ball restart after ball or player finds touch​

When the ball is kicked or carried into touch play will resume with a play-the-ball rather than a scrum.

Handover for incorrect play-the-ball​

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.

Captain’s challenge​

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 challenges available later in matches.

Bunker Reviews​

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.


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.



Long live the Rainbows and Butterflies
May 8, 2012
Like i said above, i love the bit about trainers with the magic water now being forced to take the player from the field for a period of 2 minutes before they are allowed to re-enter the game. That will make a massive difference to all the oh dear look at my poor injured player who needs exactly as much time as it takes to have the rest of the team stop breathing hard to recover, before i give him the magic water bottle and he miraculously springs to life again.

Also the auto bunker reviews should mean that the game moves faster with less time spent looking at replays.

Not sold on the 2 point field goal. I mean why not try to slot one at the end of every set of play when your not able to get to the oppositions goal line. Could go horribly wrong, but then again did we ever see a 20/40 last year? and is that rule still on the books? It does seem that the game is heading back towards kicking being way more important again.

Does anyone believe that the ref will award handovers for incorrect play of the ball after game 2 of the season? Is this just another one of those rules that sounds good but will encourage the opposition to mess with the player and the ref will just ignore it to speed up the game?


1st Grade Fringe
Aug 11, 2017
Love the "injured" player having to leave the field rule, but would like it to be extended to 5 minutes if there's no sub.

The new play the ball rule will be a disaster, in the Maori v Indeginous game Fafita played the ball facing the sideline and wasn't pulled up, two plays later Ferguson was made to hand the ball over for not touching the ball with his foot when he played it , even though you only need to make an attempt to play the ball which he did.


Warriors 1st Grader
May 19, 2012
Always a bit mixed when it comes to rule changes. How about they actually officiate the rules that are there first. I remember a few years back they did that and teams struggled to do line drop outs because they were do focused on doing it from behind the line.

Hate the field goal rule. Keep it to one. It's there to be a decider. Should not be the same value as a penalty or conversion.

Scrums call. As long as reffed the same way. Not sure that the sin bin is fair. Make a scrum penalty able to be a shot at goal.

Touch finders to stay as scrum restarts. In such a defensively structured game having the width of the field available with less players is exciting. Love seeing set piece plays. Tim Sheen's teams were very good at them

The rest seem fine. Common sense.

Either way I can see us getting stung at crucial times by dubious calls. For some reason I see Jazz being told to hand the ball over for not playing it with his foot.
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Warriors 1st Grader
Apr 14, 2012
The two point field goal is like a solution standing there at the dancehall with a rose in it's hand, desperately looking for a problem to give the rose to. On top of which, given the rarity of successful fieldgoals within 20m, I can't see any player being good enough to use the rule so it'll be a non-event.

I like the expansion of the six-again rule. Anything to bring more fatigue into the game, have fewer breaks in play, is fine by me.

I can see the penalty for not playing the ball properly annoying the bejesus out of the viewers and crowds and, as happened the last time the NRL said "We're going to get tough on the poor play-the-balls", and the time before that and the time....etc it'll be shelved by Round 3 or 4. A pity, because I do think most players actually don't make much of an effort to bring foot into contact with Steeden, but blowing a penalty for each infringement makes watching rugby league painful. And it's painful enough being a Warriors fan.

I like the trainers rule, but I'd extend the rules to trainers to say they are not allowed on field unless there's a genuine player injury/break in play for drinks because it's early season etc etc. It feels too often like the trainers are on the field behind the line of the attacking side and telling their team to get their shit together/how to do their job.
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Warriors 1st Grader
Jul 12, 2013
It would be good if the amount of time the ball stays in play stays this high. The quote about the structures falling apart would be good to see later in games, that is what I used to like as a young fella where it would be tight early before teams score late or more breaks are made.

They do say they are still working on their fitness. So going into a trial with the ball in play longer than the previos year would of been tough going.

Gutherson covering 120 metres per minute over 20 minutes is a lot of work.

‘I couldn’t breathe’: New rules expose players to finals intensity in trials​

The NRL’s rule changes have had an immediate impact on the game with players in the Penrith-Parramatta trial exposed to “semi-final intensity”, prompting one to declare, “I couldn’t breathe”.

The Herald can reveal the ball was in play for more than 32 minutes in the opening half of Saturday night’s trial at Panthers Stadium, up almost five minutes from the average half of football during last year’s NRL season.

The NRL averaged 56 minutes and 16 seconds of game time in an 80-minute contest throughout last season. The alarming data out of the Panthers-Eels trial raises huge question marks over how the new rule changes are going to change the sport.

GPS tracking also clocked Parramatta fullback Clint Gutherson at 120 metres covered per minute over the opening 20 minutes of the game, well above the high-intensity training players are put through at training.

During high-intensity simulation sessions at training, clubs aim to get players covering 85-95 metres per minute.
“The speed of the first half, they reckoned it was around 95 metres per minute, which is pretty high,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said. “Gutho [Clint Gutherson] was 120 metres per minute in the first 20 minutes, so it was very fast.
Clint Gutherson was put to the test in Saturday’s trial match against Penrith.

Clint Gutherson was put to the test in Saturday’s trial match against Penrith.CREDIT:NRL PHOTOS
“I think both teams were real tired at stages and the quality of the shape was off at times, but I think that was because of the speed of the game. It’s just going to take a bit of getting used to. We had a plan to get the players off a lot earlier than we did but I thought they needed the match fitness.”
The NRL’s rule changes have focused on minimising stoppages, increasing the amount of time the ball is in play and, ultimately, raising the fatigue factor to ramp up the entertainment value of the sport.

It had the opposite impact on Saturday night, with the rule changes - coupled with a high completion rate - leaving players too tired to penetrate in attack. “F--- these new rules,” one Eels player told the Herald as he left the ground. “I couldn’t breathe.”
The most significant rule changes include adding inside-the-10 infringements to the six-again rule, as well as play-the-ball restarts for the ball or players going into touch.
Nathan Cleary in action against the Eels on Saturday night.

Nathan Cleary in action against the Eels on Saturday night.CREDIT:NRL PHOTOS
Eels halfback Mitchell Moses even asked Panthers counterpart Nathan Cleary during the match if he was struggling to keep up with the pace, to which Cleary recognised the high speed of the game.
Parramatta players privately admitted the first half was tougher than any match they played last year, forcing them to place a greater emphasis on fitness heading into the opening round in 10 days’ time.


Mitchell Moses attempts to race clear in the trial against the Panthers at Panthers Stadium.

NRL 2021

Eels extend faith in Mitchell Moses on eve of make-or-break season

“The objective of the rules-changes is to reduce stoppages, increase the amount of time the ball is in play, and make the game as exciting as possible for fans,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.
“It’s always difficult to gauge the full impact of rule changes in trial matches, as it’s not until two points are on the line in the the opening rounds of the competition that the changes will be properly stress-tested.
“I’m not getting carried away at this early stage, but what I saw over the weekend was certainly encouraging.”


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