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Law changes for 2021

Here are the six law changes for 2021 as given on the RFL website:

1 — 20/40 kick: Where a player kicks the ball in general play, bounded by his own dead-ball line, 20-metre line and touchline and the ball finds touch, otherwise than on the full, at a point on the touchline between the opponents’ 40-metre line and the goal line, the kicking team shall restart play with a tap kick.

The tap kick will be taken 20 metres in from touch and in line with where the ball first crossed the touchline, but no closer than 10 metres from the goal line.

Prior to blowing the whistle the referee will give the defending team “reasonable time” to get in position.

The tap kick may only be taken when the referee blows his whistle to restart play. This will only occur when all match officials are in place and ready to officiate.

2 — Ball steal: The ball can be stolen from the player in possession at any stage prior to a tackle being completed and when there is only one defender effecting the tackle.

If there are two or more defenders effecting the tackle and the ball is stolen, a penalty should be awarded except if the player in possession is attempting to ground the ball for a try.

(note: This changes the previous situation in which a defender would be penalised for stealing the ball if other defenders had been involved in the tackle, then dropped off).

3 — Lateral position of scrums: Where play is recommenced by a scrum, both teams must be properly bound and packed within 30 seconds from the time the referee has verbally indicated that the “scrum clock” has started.

The team with the loose head and feed must elect, within five seconds of the referee verbally indicating that the “scrum clock” has started, to move the scrum to (a) 10 metres in from touch (b) 20 metres in from touch (c) centre field.

Each team must nominate two players on the team sheet prior to the match as able to inform the referee where the scrum should be set. If both nominated player are off the field, one additional player may be nominated to the touch judge by the head trainer during the match.

If the team does not elect to move the scrum or if five seconds elapses prior to the team with head and feed nominating where the scrum should be moved to, or there is confusion as to where they would like the scrum moved to, the scrum will be formed at the point of the infringement, but not closer than 20 metres from the touchline or 10 metres from the goal line.

The scrum can only be moved to one of the nominated points on the same side of the field to where the infringement occurred.

If the scrum clock is not started due to an injury, or for a reason outside the control of the team with the loose head and feed, they are required to advise the referee of the nominated position as the referee moves to check on the injured player.

4 — Restart of play after ball crosses the touchline: Play-the-ball restart after the ball, or player carrying the ball, finds touch (note: would previously have been a scrum).

The play-the-ball will be 10 or 20 metres from touch or midfield, nominated within ten seconds by the captain.

The default position will be the 20-metre mark.

5 — Incorrect play-the-ball: A handover is to be awarded when players do not make a genuine attempt to play the ball with the foot (note: would previously have been a penalty).

6 — Scrum break: When players break early (at the scrum) before the referee has called “Out”, the referee will award a full penalty. The team receiving the penalty will have the option of re-fprmingn the scrum. If the scrum is reformed and players again break early, a further penalty will be awarded and one of the offending players will be sent to the sin-bin.

SCRUMS – EMERGENCY LAW AMENDMENT

Due to the current state of the Covid pandemic, it is recommended to continue with the emergency law introduced in 2020 with scrums removed.

This will be kept under constant review and when safe to do so, on medical and scientific advice, scrums can be re-introduced during the season. However, the shot clock application will be removed.

The play-the-ball restart will be 10 or 20 metres from touch or midfield, nominated within 10 seconds by the captain (as defined above).

The default position will be the 20-metre mark.

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