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On-Field Changes set for 2020

The Rugby Football League’s Law Committee has approved a change in the wording surrounding the officiating of play-the-balls in the 2020 season which is hoped to lead to a significant on-field improvement.

During the Laws Committee pre-season meeting the RFL’s Match Officials Department submitted their recommendations as asked regarding the play-the-ball, following on going discussions through 2019. The proposal was unanimously accepted and stressed the responsibility of the tackled player “to maintain balance and control and make a genuine attempt to make contact on the ball with the foot.” It is also the tackled player’s responsibility to place the ball on the ground at their feet and not on a defender, and failure to fulfil any of those requirements will be ruled as a lost ball leading to a scrum, not a penalty. The Laws Committee believe a scrum is a more appropriate punishment for this error rather than penalty. The responsibility of defenders was also detailed and states: “No tackler should make an adjustment on the tackle or leave hands or body in the play-the-ball area after the tackle is complete. Referees should act on any interference once the tackle has been called.” “Tacklers who ‘clamp’ the ball and keep their hands/arms on the ball when the ball carrier is standing up should be penalised.” The above has been ratified by the RFL Board. Some other significant changes which have been approved by the Laws Committee and ratified by the RFL Board for 2020 are: Punches to the head/striking – Striking, any contact being made to the head, which is deemed forceful by the Match Officials, will be included as an automatic sin bin in the updated sin bin section of the Match Officials’ Policy. Shot Clock – teams will now only have 30 seconds to restart the match at a scrum, and 25 seconds for a drop-out. Golden Point – Golden Point Extra Time will be introduced to the Betfred Championship and League 1 in 2020, with each team taking one competition point from a match that is drawn at full-time, an additional point is available to the first team to score a point in two five-minute periods of extra time.   Squad Declaration – Teams will now be required to name a 21-player squad at noon two days before each fixture and if they then include any players from outside of that 21 in their match-day 17, they will lose one of eight interchanges permitted in each match.

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