The Rugby Football League is to clamp down on unsportsmanlike behaviour after a spate of ball-throwing incidents in the first two rounds of the 2017 Betfred Super League.
The governing body has acted to halt the growing trend of players seeking to gain a penalty by deliberately throwing the ball at opponents struggling to get back onside after making a tackle.
The cynical ploy was highlighted during Salford’s game against Huddersfield last Thursday when Josh Jones threw the ball forward at Danny Brough and was awarded a penalty by referee James Child, who acted under the strict letter of the law.
Now referees are being instructed to deem such a ploy as misconduct, with players behaving against the true spirit of the game.
A statement issued by the RFL said: “Following a review of the first two weeks of the Betfred Super League season, it has become clear that some players are deliberately passing a ball into a player with the sole intention of forcing the match official to award a penalty for offside.
“Having reviewed these incidents, Rugby Football League head of match officials, Steve Ganson, has written to all head coaches and made it clear that in these situations, match officials have now been instructed to consider section 15 (i) of the laws of the game which state that a player is guilty of misconduct if he behaves in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game.
“This does not in any way absolve a defender of his responsibilities to clear the ruck and the defending team will still be penalised should the match official deem he is interfering with play.”