The Rules of Rugby League

NRL Rule Changes for 2004

Friday, January 30, 2004

Rugby League fans may no longer have to endure goal kickers deliberately taking 'excessive' time to attempt penalties or conversions.

The National Rugby League has today advised that clubs face fines starting from $2,000 if goal kickers deliberately 'waste time' during games.

The practice of 'time wasting' attracted significant attention from fans and clubs in 2003, with the issue ultimately being raised via the NRL Rules Committee and the NRL Annual Conference.

It was proposed that a reasonable 'time standard' be established for goal-kicks and that breach notices be issued to clubs who operate outside this.

NRL Referees have now analysed video tapes from the 2003 season and identified that the time taken for kicks throughout the season ranged from less than 1 minute at the lower end of the scale to approximately 2 minutes 30 seconds and sometimes even longer.

In 2004 the NRL will require the kicker to take his attempt within 1 minute 30 seconds for goal kicks from the moment the try is scored, or for penalties from the moment the referee blows his whistle.

No matter what time is taken the referee will not take any disciplinary action on the field in relation to the kicker, other than to blow time off if he feels this is appropriate (as per the existing rules).

Instead statistics will be analysed after the game and the club (not the player) will be issued with a breach notice in the following week.

Initial fines will be $2,000 but there will be scope to increase these if clubs incur consistent breaches.

"Naturally, the NRL will consider unusual circumstances (eg. extreme weather conditions) prior to any decision to breach a club under this policy," NRL Chief Operating Officer, Mr Graham Annesley said today.

"The NRL will also monitor the time limit as the season progresses to ensure it remains appropriate and effective.

"This was an area that caused considerable debate among fans and club personnel in 2003 and the NRL wants to ensure that fans are getting to see a full game of Rugby League action each weekend.

"If players are allowed to take two, three, and four minutes a kick, and there are four or five goals in a match, then there is a lot of football the fans won't get to see.

"This issue was canvassed with players, clubs and coaches at the Annual conference and this is the course of action that was endorsed."

The NRL has also received official confirmation from the RLIF in relation to two rule amendments for 2004. These rules will be consistent throughout the International Laws of the game.

Currently the team that wins the toss automatically receives the ball and has the choice of ends, the rule has been changed along the following lines:


1.          Coin Toss (pre game & to commence extra time)

The team winning the toss now has the option of choosing which end of the field to defend, or alternatively may elect to kick-off to commence play. If the team winning the toss elects to kick-off, the choice of ends reverts to the team losing the toss. 


Currently a team whose player is held up in goal while in possession before the fifth tackle will receive a scrum feed 10m from the goal line and an effective restarting of the tackle count. The rule will be altered along the following lines:


2.           Held-up In-Goal  

When an attacking player is held-up in his opponents in-goal area and is unable to ground the ball, play will be restarted by the player in possession playing the ball 10 metres out from the goal line directly opposite the point where he was held-up. The tackle count will then continue in the normal manner (ie. if a player is held-up on tackle 3, play will resume with a play-the-ball 10 metres from the goal line and the following tackle will be tackle 4). Please note that if a player in possession is held-up on the sixth tackle, there is no change to the existing rule (i.e. a 'hand-over' 10m out).


These rule changes will apply throughout the upcoming regional trials, however no breaches will be issued in relation to goal kicking until the commencement of the Telstra Premiership on Friday March 12.