Scrums will not return in early 2021

Scrums will not be returning to rugby league, at least for the early part of 2021, following a meeting of the law review committee.

The emergency law introduced for the restart of the 2020 season in July, in response to the situation regarding Covid-19 – removing scrums and replacing them with a handover of possession – will be retained (with the shot clock application removed).

However the situation will be kept under review, and the hope is that the emergency law will be removed, and that scrums will return, before the end of the 2021 season.

In addition, six law changes for 2021 have been recommended and approved, which will be applied at all levels of the game.

These changes include flexibility for the attacking team on the lateral positioning of scrums; a reward for 20/40 Kicks; a handover of possession for an incorrect play-the-ball; and the removal of scrums when the ball goes into touch.

Dave Rotheram, the RFL’s Chief On-Field Officer, said: “Thanks are due to the members of the RFL’s Laws Committee, which comprises a range of experts from all sections of the game, and also to Graham Annesley, who attended the meeting and explained the background to the law changes introduced by the NRL in 2020 and 2021.

“The RFL have been keen to achieve as much consistency as possible between the laws applied in both hemispheres, both in domestic competitions and through the International Laws.

“A greater degree of harmonisation was achieved through the law changes introduced for the resumption of the 2020 season – notably the adoption of “Six Again” – and that process will continue with the law changes introduced for 2021.

“The Committee agreed that scrums could be reintroduced to certain parts of the game and not others, again depending on the public health situation.”

Robert Elstone, Executive Chairman of Super League Europe added: “Super League always welcomes changes that add excitement for our fans and showcase the unique qualities of our players. 

“Also, we welcome alignment of rules across the two leading Rugby League competitions – so it was especially helpful to hear directly from Graham Annesley to understand the reasons for this season’s changes in the NRL, and to get closer to them on future potential changes.”

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