By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 09/07/20 4:43pm
On Monday, the RFL confirmed the implementation of several temporary rule changes which will be in place for the remainder of the 2020 season.
The most notable were that scrums would be replaced by play-the-ball restarts and the adoption of the ‘six again’ rule for certain ruck infringements, the latter of which has been praised since coming into force in the NRL.
We spoke to Canberra Raiders and England half-back George Williams, and Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson to get their views on what effect the rules could have when Super League restarts on August 2…
‘The ‘six again’ rule kills you’
George Williams is in no doubt the game in Australia has become even quicker since the ‘six again’ rule was implemented following the NRL reverting to using one on-field referee for the rest of 2020.
Since 2009, the competition had used two on-field officials, with one keeping an eye on the ruck in an effort to discourage delaying tactics after a tackle and at the play-the-ball.
Williams, who played the first two games of the year under the old rules prior to the NRL season being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, has already seen a difference.
“I’d only played two NRL games before the rule came in, but I think it speeds the game up even more,” Williams told Sky Sports.
“I think we’ve seen more points scored and it’s a more flamboyant type of rugby. The ball gets thrown about quite a bit and the rucks are just that fast you can’t get any line-speed.
“The ‘six again’ rule kills you if you concede it on tackle three or four after your middles have tackled for a few plays. It kills you for about 10 minutes and it’s really hard to get back.”
The Canberra scrum-half is in no doubt him and his fellow backs are benefiting from being able to take on the forwards in the middle of the park as well due to the fatigue effects of teams having to defend on back-to-back sets of six more often.
“I think it’s better for us little blokes!” Williams said. “The big fellas get more tired in the middle, so it gives us more opportunities have a run at them and test those big blokes in the middle.
- Scrums removed
- ‘Six again’ rule adopted
- Play-the-ball restart for kick out on the full and mutual infringements
- Restriction on legal point of contact for the third player in an upright tackle
‘You should see some excitement’
Scrums have remained in place in the NRL, although the RFL have taken the decision to suspended them for the rest of the year after consulting medical experts on the best ways to reduce the risk of players contracting coronavirus.
That has divided opinion within the sport, although Salford boss Ian Watson believes the rule changes will have a positive impact in Super League.
“I don’t mind the rule changes,” Watson told Sky Sports. “I think the rule changes will make the game very fast and it will be interesting to see how it’s managed by players and referees.
“It could be really good. It just depends how it’s taken by the players, coaches and referees because we’ve seen some big scorelines in the NRL on the back of the rule changes with the constant defending.
“But you should see some excitement in and around it as well, so hopefully it goes down that way.”
Watson is, however, concerned changes to the way the game is played have been made while the issue over whether there will be any promotion to and relegation from Super League this year remains outstanding.
A decision on that is not expected until July 23 – 10 days before the season resumes – at the latest and, with some Super League teams having already played seven games, the former Wales international has called for clarity on the issue.
“My biggest gripe is that they haven’t sorted out promotion and relegation,” Watson said.
“It’s changed the face of the game now and it’s a different competition with the rules we’re going to play now.”