SUPER LEAGUE’S creation in 1996 brought with it a whole host of new rules, regulations and expectation.
After the video referee was used for the very first time in the 1996 Super League World Nines, it was adopted in the UK top flight, making it one of the first sports in the country to do so.
Since 1996, rules have been tweaked for safety, entertainment and education. Here is a list of every rule change since 1996.
Super League I
– Scrums would be set 20 metres from the touchline in a bid to create attacking opportunities.
– The game would be restarted after a try by the the team that had scored to make contests more even.
– At the play-the-ball, the defending side would no longer be allowed to strike for the ball to clean up the ruck.
– At the play-the-ball, the tackled player would no longer be able to tap the ball forwards to himself.
Super League IV
– The 40/20 rule would be introduced.
Super League VI
– 20-metre restarts allowed to happen quickly and to deter referees to delay them.
– The first and second halves would end the moment the hooter sounded.
Super League VIII
– The knock-on rule would be changed so that if a referee adjudged a player did not play at the ball then a knock-on would not be given.
– The number of substitutions allowed increased from 6 to 12 with a group of 4 substitutes to choose from.
Super League XIII
– If a team kicks the ball from a 20-metre restart and the ball bounces into touch, they would be awarded the scrum.
– The ball could no longer be trapped in the scrum in a bid to earn a penalty for an opposition offside.
– If a scrum moved forwards and the ball came from between and behind the inner feet of the second-rowers then it will be judged as out.
– Defenders, but not play-the-ball markers, would be judged onside if both feet were behind the referee’s front foot.
– If a defender steals the ball from an attacker over the tryline when there is more than one defender, it would be given as a penalty instead of a penalty try.
Super League XV
– Referees would now call “held” if one of the ball-carrier’s legs was lifted by a defender in a tackle in which the participants were stood upright in a bid to increase player safety.
– Referees would now call held as soon as they see the attacker in possession being dragged by more than one defender.
Super League XVI
– When the referee calls “held” and “move”, the tackle would be judged to be completed, with any other infringement penalised.
Super League XVII
– Teams would now only be able to make 10 substitutions in a match rather than 12
– If a player in possession of the ball hits the corner flag he would no longer be judged ‘In Touch’.
– After a try, teams now have the option of taking the conversion as a drop-kick instead of from a tee.
Super League XVIII
– Advantage rule would be changed.
Super League XXIV
– The number of interchanges a team can make would be reduced from 10 to 8.
– Shot clocks would be introduced in an attempt to speed up play. Teams would be penalised if they take more than 35 seconds to form a scrum and more than 30 seconds to take a drop-out.
– Golden point extra-time rule would be introduced, where after 80 minutes, if a game was drawn, then 10 minutes of extra-time was played until one team scored the winning point(s). If no point was scored, it would end a draw.
Super League XXV
– Teams would now have only 30 seconds to restart the match at a scrum, and 25 seconds for a drop-out.
– Teams would now be required to name a 21-player squad at noon two days before each fixture (rather than a 19-player squad, as previously); and if they include any players from outside that 21 in their matchday 17, they will lose one of the eight interchanges permitted in each match.
– Striking an automatic sinbin.
– Scrums removed with a handover of possession instead (due to Covid-19).
– ‘Six Again’ rule would be adopted which replaced penalties for defensive infringements at rucks with a new set of six for the attacking team.
Super League XXVI
– Flexibility for the attacking team would be installed on the lateral positioning of scrums
– A reward for 20/40 kicks.
– A new ‘ball steal’ law would be introduced whereby the ball could legally be stripped from the attacking player by a single defender even if other defenders had previously been involved in the tackle.
– A handover of possession for an incorrect play-the-ball.
– The removal of scrums when the ball goes into touch.
– Dual registration would not be allowed, but loans would be, with the minimum load period reduced to fourteen days.
Super League XXVII
– Scrums would return to all competitions, but would only be reintroduced for errors (knock-on, forward pass or accidental offside) in the first four tackles of a set. In other cases, a handover would be introduced.
– The ball steal law would revert to the 2020 rule where the ball can only be stolen in a one-on-one tackle and not during a multi-person tackle where the additional tacklers have peeled off the tackle before the steal.
– Injured players would be required to leave the pitch for treatment, if possible, following complaints that stoppages for injury spoil the speed and flow of the game.
– A green card would be introduced – if play is stopped due to a player needing attention, they must then either be substituted, leave the field for a concussion test, or wait on the sideline for two minutes before returning. The green card is only shown to a player, if the team doctor enters the field of play, without being invited by the match official.