NRL 2 point 40m+ Fieldgoal & other rule changes

11th December 2020

The NRL has announced several rule changes for the 2021 Telstra Premiership season to make the game "faster, more free-flowing, entertaining and unpredictable". The changes are:

  • the introduction of a two-point field goal for kicks taken from more than 40 metres out
  • six-again to be called for 10-metre infringements
  • penalties for teams if they leave a scrum before a referee calls "break"
  • a play-the-ball restart if the ball or player with the ball goes over the sideline
  • The Bunker will now review replays after an on-field referee awards a try but a conversion attempt will not be allowed until it gets the green light
  • injured players will be interchanged if a trainer ask's for play to be stopped;
  • when a captain's challenge is inconclusive a team will not be docked for an unsuccessful attempt
  • a handover will be ordered when a player does not make a genuine attempt to play the ball correctly with their foot

    The ARL Commission met on Friday morning to discuss recommendations put forward from Monday's meeting of the newly formed innovation committee. Chaired by ARL Commission member Wayne Pearce, the committee was made up of chairman Peter V'landys, head of football Graham Annesley, veteran coaches Craig Bellamy and Ricky Stuart, referee Matt Cecchin, as well as current internationals Luke Keary and Damien Cook. V'landys said these innovations would lead to "less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans". The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear - the game became too predictable and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence. "Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further."

    Two points for field goals outside the 40m line

    To encourage more unstructured play and increase the chances of a result changing in the final moments of a game, a two-point field goal will be awarded for teams who kick a field goal from outside the 40-metre line. The new rule will provide an incentive to seek an additional point scoring opportunity at critical times of a match, particularly with limited time remaining on the clock in each half.

    Six Again for 10 metre infringements

    To reduce stoppages in the game, 10 metre infringement penalties will be replaced with a "six-again" ruling. Referees maintain the ability to blow a penalty and sin bin a player if a side has made repeated 10m infringements or in the case of professional fouls. The six-again rule provided a sufficient deterrent for teams who purposely sought a penalty to slow the game down during previous years. This rule was trialled in two games during round 20 of last season. This will result in a fast game, less stoppages and more free-flowing action for fans.


    The Commission determined scrums are part of the game’s DNA. To increase the integrity of scrums, the referee will call “BREAK” when he or she is satisfied the ball is out of a scrum. Players will not be permitted to break from a scrum until the referee makes the call. Where players break before the call of “BREAK”, the referee will award a full penalty. The team receiving the penalty will also have the option of re-packing the scrum. If the scrum is re-packed and players again break early a further penalty will be awarded and one of the offending players will be sent to the sin bin.

    Play-the-ball restart after ball or player finds touch

    When the ball is kicked or carried into touch play will resume with a play-the-ball rather than a scrum. This rule was trialled in two games during the final round of last season.

    Handover for incorrect play-the-ball

    A handover will be ordered where players do not make a genuine attempt to play the ball with their foot. This will ensure greater compliance to the rule and integrity around the play the ball, without increasing penalty stoppages.

    Captain’s Challenge

    In cases where a captain’s challenge review is inconclusive, the on-field decision will stand but the team will retain their challenge. Fans have expressed frustration with teams losing a challenge where replays prove inconclusive, this will ensure a greater opportunity for teams to have challenges available later in matches.

    Bunker Reviews

    Where the on-field referee believes a try is scored the referee will award a try and the bunker will review the decision in the background. A conversion attempt will not be permitted until the Bunker is satisfied a try has been scored. This will ensure even less stoppage time and ensure momentum in the game continues. This rule was trialled in two games during the final round of last season.


    In 2021, where a trainer asks a match official to stop the game for an injury, the injured player must be either interchanged or taken off the field for a period of two minutes of elapsed game time before he is permitted to resume his place on the field. This will reduce the number of stoppages for minor injuries.

    NRL Introduces 18th Man

    6th April 2021

    The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) today gave approval for National Rugby League (NRL) clubs to activate an 18th player when three players fail a HIA or when a player suffers a match ending injury caused by foul play – and the perpetrator is sin binned or sent off. A year since it was introduced by the NSWRL.

    The 18th player must be an NRL registered player who is eligible for selection in that round and part of the 21-man squad selected for the NRL Telstra Premiership game. Clubs will be permitted to select any player from the above mentioned rosters and must identify the player when final team sheets are provided on game day. The new rule will be effective from Round 5 and will be further monitored and adjusted if needed. The Commission last week gave in principle approval to the activation of the 18th player and sought consultation from all 16 clubs and the RLPA. The feedback was considered and incorporated into the adjusted rule that was formally approved today.

    ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’landys AM said the decision would provide a safety net for all Clubs and players in uncommon instances of multiple HIAs, and also ensure a team is not disadvantaged when losing a player for the match due to foul play. "Player wellbeing is a priority for the Commission and this additional safety net ensures players continue to be protected," he said. Our clubs are outstanding in the way they detect and monitor head injuries and the activation of an 18th player in rare cases of three failed HIAs during a game will ensure continued strict compliance throughout a match. We’ve also approved an 18th player to be activated when a player suffers a match ending injury because of foul play where the perpetrator is sin binned or sent off. Why should a team be disadvantaged by an act of serious foul play? This was a strong message from all clubs and fans and the Commission has listened to that feedback. We’ve also listened to clubs and players about the criteria of the 18th player used and will allow the club to select any of its registered players which will enable the most effective team combination on game day. I want to thank all Clubs and the RLPA for their feedback."

    Head Contact Sin Bin Introduced

    3rd May 2021

    The NRL has today reminded Match Officials, Clubs and Players of the need to adhere to the rules. From Round Nine of the NRL Telstra Premiership, Match Officials have been reminded to take minimal tolerance for avoidable contact with the head or neck. While incidental or minor contact will continue to be penalised and potentially placed on report, on-field officials and the NRL Bunker have been encouraged to use the sin bin or send-off mechanisms for contact deemed careless or reckless and involving a significant degree of force around the head and neck. The reminder is based on the Commission’s focus on ensuring player safety remains the game’s highest priority.

    Match Officials will also take stronger action regarding continuous or deliberate tactical breaches in relation to “Six Again” calls for 10 metre and ruck infringements. On-field officials will consider appropriate use of a penalty and sin bin, if it’s considered necessary under the circumstances, to ensure a higher level of compliance, including for repeat infringements or deliberate infringements early in the set. This does not need to be the same player on consecutive occasions. The team receives a general warning and the next player that infringes in the ensuing period could be sin binned. When the “Six Again” was introduced it allowed for penalties and sin binning for repeated offences.

    Referees will also be more vigilant in identifying players who break from scrums before the call of “Break” by the referee.

    The NRL will also implement measures to ensure the public can more easily understand the reason for “Six Again” calls. The specific nature of the breach (10 metre or ruck infringement) will be communicated via the public-address system and big screen graphics. The game is also working with broadcasters to enable this to be displayed during television broadcasts to ensure fans are aware of the decision. The NRL, Fox Sports and Nine are aligned in their desire to give fans the best possible and most informative viewing experience. The “Six Again” bell will continue to ring for infringements. This communication is aimed at ensuring the game remains as safe as possible for players and entertaining and free flowing for NRL fans.

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