The popularity and growth of Rugby League in recent years has been phenomenal, and with this year's season underway, 2015 promises to be even more exciting.
The season began in February with the World Club Challenge and will finish in October with the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, and throughout the season, new rules to the structure of the game will be put in place to ensure that every minute of every match matters.
Centurion provides a short guide below to the 4 rule changes to the game of Rugby League, designed to enhance matches for players, spectators and viewers in the First Utility Super League, Kingstone Press Championship, Kingstone Press League 1 and the Challenge Cup.
Who initiated the changes and why?
The changes were devised by the RFL Laws Committee and relate to the rules surrounding the following four areas - player concussion, video referee referrals, obstruction and sin-binnings.
The purpose of the new rules is to make Rugby League’s professional competitions more exciting and restore promotion and relegation in a sustainable manner.
What are the changes?
Obstruction - the new rule for obstruction enables the referee to allow play to continue unless the defending team has been materially disadvantaged. The new rule was put in place to remove the ambiguity that caused confusion amongst some players and spectators during the 2014 season.
Concussion - this new rule means that teams will now be allowed an extra ‘free’ interchange in the event of a player suffering an injury that requires a pitchside concussion assessment. The change has been added so that players can be safeguarded against the unseen dangers of concussion. It will also help to ease the pressure off medical staff who will no longer have to make the difficult decision of whether to remove a player from the field for assessment or not.
Sin-bin - the main areas where sin-binning is deemed to be the appropriate course of action is to be changed from seven to four. The aim is to help referees impose immediate real-time sanctions by reducing the number of ‘on report’ decisions.
Video referees - Referees can now make a ‘live decision’ during televised fixtures on any try before it is referred to the video referees. This system is similar to one used in the 2014 Four Nations tournament and in the NRL and is designed to save vital time within a game. The way the new rule works is that when a try is scored, if the referee deems it worthy of a review he will immediately signal his decision, before the video referees assess whether there is sufficient evidence to overturn it.
Will the new rules work?
It's a little early in the season to assess just how well the new rules will work on the pitch, but the proposals were based on studies performed by KPMG as well as lengthy consultations with fans, clubs, players and broadcasters, so we are highly confident they will have a positive impact on the game of Rugby League.
RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood, who chairs the Laws Committee, said: “The changes will enhance the matchday experience for players, spectators, coaches and TV viewers alike by making the laws of the game as simple and unambiguous as possible."