The Rules of Rugby League


NEW RULES for 2001

10th February 2001 - It has been decided that the NRL ingoal rule where players can make the ball dead by having one-foot out has been scrapped. Players will now be forced to pick up the ball in the ingoal area unless it rolls dead and try and try and back into the field of play. The trial experiment rule two players allowed to stripping the ball has also been scrapped. 

The NRL has introduced a number of new rule changes for the 2001 season in an attempt to encourage attacking play.

Along with the rule changes, the NRL also announced that salary cap breaches from the 2000 season will result in fines of up to 50 per cent of the breach, while the eight-team finals system will be retained.

The contentious ruling that allowed defenders to earn a 20 metre tap by placing one foot over the dead ball line and making the ball "dead" after an in-goal kick has been changed.

The new rulings are that any kick from inside the 40m line that finishes in-goal and which in turn is made "dead" by a defender will result in a 20m tap.

However a kick made from outside the 40m area which is made dead in-goal by the defending team will result in a line drop-out.

In other rule changes, the ball will be able to be 'stolen' with two defenders involved in a tackle. Before, only player could be involved in the tackle.

Attacking teams will be given the "benefit of the doubt" in refereeing decisions on tries.

The ability of video referees to rule on forward passes during tries has been scraped.

Both props on the open side must have their front foot forward and the halfback must feed into that "tunnel" and players will be "held" in the scrum until the ball has cleared.

The International Rugby League Federation will be asked to approve the 'experimental' rules and they will be assessed in trial matches ahead of the 2001 season.

26th May 2000 - Rugby League's unlimited interchange bench will be scrapped next season in favour of a maximum 12 replacements from a four-man bench. A board meeting of the National Rugby League voted yesterday to implement the new ruling from next season. The 12 replacements include all interchanges, including blood bins and head bins.

Tuesday 23 Jan 2001 12:00

The NRL has introduced a whole new array of rules with the controversial dead ball rule to be experimented during the trials and there's also been a change to the format of extra time during the final series. Instead of a finals match being 10min each way in case of a draw, it will now be automatically a 'Golden Point' rule where first point wins.

In the last extra-time finals match back in 1998 when Parramatta crumbled against Canterbury, the match under the new rule format would have been over in less than a minute during extra-time as Bulldogs hero Craig Polla-Mounter landed a 30m drop-goal at the end of the first set of six during the extra time period. But under the old setup, the extra-time was played the full 20 minutes with the Bulldogs winning 32-20. The only sudden death extra-time seen in Australia was in 1997 during the Super League Tri-Series where New South Wales and Queensland were still locked at 22-all after extra-time and four minutes into sudden extra-time, Noel Goldthorpe landed a drop-goal to secure the Blues victory. There will be no extra interchanges (max 12) allowed during extra-time, unless someone is injured because of foul play.

Without doubt the most controversial and talked about rule addition is the dead ball line restarts that has caused more anger than delight and one of the hardest rules to fathom. Many see it as a way to stop kicking but a good skill was trapping the opponents in the ingoal area and forcing a repeat set of six. Has anyone thought about what happens if a player gets the ball 5m out and surrounded by a wall of defence? The player could walk back and be tackled ingoal and get the 20m tap and gain 15m....

Can't see the dead ball line restarts lasting beyond the trials but they should get rid of the silly one-foot-in and one-foot-out rule that turned a great kick into a shocker.

Below are the five rules to be used during the trials:
Dead ball line restarts:
Kicks from over 40 metres out from opponents goal line that finish in the in-goal area and are made dead by a defending player in any manner, play will recommence with a goal line drop out. Kicks from within 40 metres of opponents goal line that finish in the in-goal area and are made dead by a defender in any manner, will recommence with a 20 metre restart by the defending team.

Mid-air tackles:
Only apply when a player from the non kicking team catches the ball on the full.

Stealing the ball:
The football may not be stolen if there are more than two tacklers involved.

If knocked towards opponents dead ball line with the hand or arm 'while playing at the ball'.

20 metre restart:
This kick may be used to gain a territorial advantage (ie. if this kick finds touch a scrum will be formed where the ball crosses the touchline, and the kicking team will receive the loose head and feed).

Rules below that have been approved by the NRL Board and implemented for the 2001 season:
Video referee:
The video referee may not be called upon to rule on forward passes. The video referee may only be called upon to rule on incidents in the final play leading to the scoring of points (ie. from the previous play-the-ball).

Benefit of the doubt:
In cases of extreme doubt the referee or video referee will give the benefit of such doubt to the attacking team.

Interchange (extra time):
No additional interchanges will be permitted. However, the NRL Rules have been amended to dispense with extra time of 10 minutes each way. Finals matches where the scores are level at full-time will go directly into a 'Golden Point' situation where the first scorer be it try, goal or drop-goal wins.

Double movement:
Only apply if a players momentum has stopped short of the goal line, the ball or the arm carrying the ball has been grounded, and the ball is then advanced to place it over the goal line. If momentum carries a player in possession into the in-goal area, it will not be a double movement if the ball would have finished over the goal line regardless of any subsequent movement of the ball or the arm carrying the ball.

Reduced in-goal dimensions:
A standard in-goal depth of 8 metres will apply at all venues.

Both props on the side where the ball is being fed must have their outside foot forward and the half back must feed the ball into the space between their outside feet. All players must remain in the scrum until the ball is out of the scrum.

Interchange because of foul play:
A free interchange will be permitted if a player is fouled and injured by an opponent who is sent off, sin binned, or placed on report. This will only apply where the injured player is immediately replaced at the time of the incident. If the injured player later returns to the field, that interchange is to be counted as one of the twelve permissible interchanges.

Bleeding players procedure:
If the referee notices a bleeding player he will immediately stop play and call 'time-out'. The team trainer will immediately assess if the player can be quickly treated on the field or if he will require attention off the field. If the trainer advises that the player can be treated on the field, the referee will instruct the player to drop out behind play and the match will recommence immediately. If the trainer advises he will have to take the player off the field, the game will not recommence until the team is given the chance to effect an immediate interchange, or advise that they will temporarily play on with 12 players.



see how the Rules have changed over time