Super League returns today and with it come some amended, and some completely new, rules.
With that in mind, here are the official rule changes, in full, post COVID-19.
1.0 COVID 19 SCRUM REMOVAL
Handover of Possession Resulting in a Play the Ball (which would have previously recommenced with a scrum)
1.1 Where play would previously be recommenced by a scrum, this will now result in a handover in the exact position the scrum would have previously been formed. Both teams must be ready within 30 seconds from the time the Referee has verbally indicated that the ‘shot clock’ has started to the team in possession being ready to Play the Ball.
1.2 If the team are in possession and are ready to play and in the correct position as nominated by the Match Officials and the defending team are not in position the Referee will call “TIME OFF”. At this point the ‘game clock’ will stop but the ‘shot clock’ will continue to run.
1.2.1 Once the Referee has called time off, the player must not hand the ball to another player or change position. In the event of either the game clock will be restarted.
• Once the Team not in possession of the ball have both Markers set and static at the designated mark and all other defenders onside the game clock will stop but the shot clock will continue to run. If any of the markers change any position the game clock will be restarted.
1.3 When the player in possession is set to Play the Ball with the acting halfback immediately behind him and both markers square and in position, the nearside Touch Judge who may have entered the field to assist the Referee with control of the restart will call “ OK TO GO” to the Referee. The Referee will then call “SHOT CLOCK OFF” and blow his whistle at which point without delay the team in possession should Play the Ball.
1.4 If the ‘shot clock’ has counted down to zero seconds, (indicated by a buzzer sounding) and one team is not properly set ready to start, the Referee shall award a penalty to the non-offending team. This will result in a full penalty.
1.5 If, in the opinion of the Referee, the handover is being delayed by factors outside of a team’s control, the Referee will call “TIME OFF, SHOT CLOCK OFF”. If “TIME OFF, SHOT CLOCK OFF” is called, the ‘shot clock’ and ‘game clock’ will both be stopped.
1.6 If the ‘shot clock’ is stopped, it will not be restarted.
1.7 In the event of a player suffering an injury after the ‘shot clock’ has commenced, and the player unable to re-join play, or is preventing play from restarting, then after the ‘shot clock’ has counted down to zero seconds, (indicated by a buzzer sounding), the player will be required to leave the field of play and either:
1.7.1 Be interchanged; or
1.7.2 Leave the field of play and return once an interchange card is handed over; or
1.7.3 Not return to the field of play until the earlier of the next stoppage (handover, drop out, or 20m restart) or when their team regains possession. (In this situation, the player and non-playing personnel do not have to return to the designated bench area). If the player returns to the field of play early, then the Match Commissioner Or (Reserve Official) will be required to take an interchange card from the team. If the last interchange has already been used, then it will be referred to compliance
1.8 NOTE: It is the Club’s non-playing personnel who have the responsibility to ensure that the injured player returns at the correct time from an onside position.
1.8.1 If, in the opinion of the Referee, a team deliberately does not attempt to restart play with a handover and the subsequent Play the Ball, a penalty will be awarded to the non-offending team at the mark. This will be a full penalty.
1.8.2 If, in the opinion of the Referee, a team deliberately prevents the opposing team from restarting play with a handover and the subsequent Play the Ball, a penalty will be awarded to the non-offending team at the mark. This will be a full penalty.
1.8.3 ‘Time on’ should be called once the ball has been played. If the Referee fails to call ‘time on’ then the Timekeeper should ensure that once the ball has been played the game clock is restarted.
NOTE: for the avoidance of doubt the above shot clock protocols will only apply to rulings that would have previously resulted in play being recommenced by a scrum.
2.0 RESTARTING THE TACKLE COUNT
Section 11 (10)(a) of the International Laws of the Game states:
“The tackled player shall be immediately released and shall not be touched until the ball is in play”.
2.1 Infringement of the rule
Where an infringement of the above rule is committed by the defending team, the referee will restart the tackle count by verbally and physically signalling “six again”, except for the following instances:
• Professional fouls
• Repeated infringements
• Where play has broken down (e.g. The infringement by the defending team results in a lost ball or an unacceptable PTB necessitating a stoppage)
A full penalty will be awarded in the above instances.
Where the Referee awards a full penalty for a professional foul or repeated infringements, the offending player will be sent to the sinbin.
A repeated infringement scenario may arise where multiple “six again” restarts have been awarded and, in the opinion of the referee, harsher action is required.
2.2 The process
2.2.1 The Referee will primarily control the 10 metres with the assistance of the open side touch judge.
2.2.2 The touch judge closest to the ruck will assist the referee to control the ruck and may step on the field of play to do so.
2.3.1 “Six again” will be ruled for any defensive ruck infringement that in the past would have resulted in a penalty (e.g. Holding down, hand on the ball, crowding, leg pulls, markers not square , split early or stand too deep)
2.3.2 A full penalty will continue to be awarded for foul play, including, but not limited to grapples, facials, chicken wings etc.
• If, in the opinion of the Referee, the attacking team deliberately breaks down play in an attempt to convert “six again” to a full penalty, the Referee will order a handover of possession resulting in a Play the Ball.
• Teams do not have to be warned about repeated infringements before the Referee awards a full penalty and uses the sinbin as a stronger deterrent.
2.3.5 Infringements by the attacking team will still be dealt with by awarding a penalty kick as in the past (e.g. moving off the mark).
3.0 MUTUTAL INFRINGEMENT
Where play is irregularly affected by a mutual infringement:
3.1 Following a Play the Ball, the Referee shall re-start play by returning to the point of the previous Play the Ball and allowing the team which was in possession at that point to play the ball again. The Play the Ball to restart the game is not counted as an additional tackle and the player who was previously tackled with the ball immediately prior to the mutual infringement is to Play the Ball to restart the game.
3.2 Following a penalty restart, the Referee shall re-start play by returning to the point where the penalty was awarded and ruling that the penalty restart be retaken.
3.3 Following a goal line or 20m drop-out, the Referee shall re-start play by returning to the point where the drop out was taken and ruling that the drop out be retaken.
• Following a 20m optional kick, the Referee shall re-start play by returning to the point where the 20m optional kick was taken and ruling that the 20m optional kick be retaken.
• Following a kick- off, the Referee shall re-start play by returning to the point where the kick- off was taken and ruling that the kick- off be retaken.
If, in any of the above circumstances, there is a turnover in possession prior to the mutual infringement occurring, the Referee shall re-start play by awarding a zero- tackle restart where the mutual infringement occurred (or 10m out from the goal line if the mutual infringement occurred in the in-goal) to the team in possession at that time.
The Referee is the sole judge of what constitutes a mutual infringement and whether play has been irregularly affected. Contact between a defender and Referee may not constitute a mutual infringement.
• KICK OUT ON THE FULL
A handover shall occur when the ball is kicked directly into touch on the full.
The handover will occur at the point where the ball was kicked, but no closer than 10 metres from the goal line and no closer than 10 metres from the touchline. If the ball goes into touch on the full behind the point at which it was kicked, play will recommence with a handover in line with where it crossed the touchline, no closer than 10 metres from the touchline or goal line. The Play the Ball to recommence play shall not be counted for the purposes of the tackle count.
• THIRD MAN IN
When a player in possession is held in an upright position by two defenders, any other defender[s] must make initial contact to the player in possession above the knees/knee joint. Regardless of the point of impact, a player can still be penalised for any ‘forceful, dangerous or unnecessary contact’ at the legs that involves an unacceptable risk of injury to the player in possession.