NRL Adjusts Dummy-Half Deliberate Passing into Tackler Ruling for 2018

24th May 2018

Referees have been instructed to penalise players for intentionally passing the ball into defenders lying in the ruck as NRL CEO Todd Greenberg ordered a crackdown on time-wasting.

NRL head of football Brian Canavan has instructed referees to crack down on players deliberately passing the ball into defending players at the ruck. Starting with Thursday night's clash, referees will now rule that if a dummy-half player "deliberately passes the ball into a defending player caught in and around the ruck who is not actively taking part in the play, the act will be deemed to be contrary to the true spirit of the game". This is using rule 15 Miscoduct.

Referees will award a penalty against the attacking team and the NRL has informed all clubs of the directive. "What we have seen recently is a bad look for the game, and in simple terms, not in the spirit of the game," Canavan said. "In these instances, if a player deliberately throws the ball into another, the referees will give a penalty to the opposition team. This does not absolve a defender of his responsibilities to clear the ruck and the defending team will still be penalised if it is deemed that they are interfering with play. It's a grey area to be honest. If someone is in the ruck and you're trying to throw the ball and it hits them, obviously they can't be invisible."

Greenberg announced a number of other measures aimed at reducing stoppages and time-wasting, including players sent to the sin-bin leaving the field in a timely manner and referees keeping warnings to captains short and to the point.

Referees have been instructed to "communicate warnings or cautions for repeated infringements to captains more efficiently" to minimise delays in restarting play. There has been criticism this season that captains are deliberately slowing play down when their team has conceded a penalty in order to give their teammates a breather before their next defensive set.

"I've provided a directive to the referees to ensure that we don't want to see committee meetings on the try-line while we're waiting for the play to restart," Greenberg said. "The onus of responsibility is on the referee to have a very brief conversation, provide a warning to the opposing captain, and to get on with the game. That's exactly what I've told them today. I don't want committee meetings on the try-line. If the referee wants to give a captain a warning, make it quick, make it short, make it sharp. Let's get on with the game. That's what the fans want to see."