RFL announce changes to ruck and play the ball rules

The RFL have announced amendments to the rules that will come into effect immediately. Picture: SWPIx
The RFL have announced amendments to the rules that will come into effect immediately. Picture: SWPIx

The Rugby Football League have announced a series of amendments to the playing rules at the ruck.

It has become an issue in the game where players are trying to win a penalty by throwing the ball into a player on the ground or into a defender at the play the ball.

Castleford coach Daryl Powell called on the RFL to clean up the game following the Tigers' 37-16 loss to Catalans Dragons in Perpignan on Easter Monday.

An incensed Powell said after the game: "I think there is a wider issue for the game at the moment.

"The amount of cheating in games is growing. Playing the ball into players on the floor, playing it at 100 miles an hour and we're cheating to combat the cheating.

"It's worse than football at the moment. I just think it's disgraceful, they have to get a grip of it. It has to be stamped out. They have to do something about it and the Rugby League have to act pretty quickly, I think."

And on Tuesday, the RFL announced amendments to the rules that will come into effect immediately.

Placing the ball on the tackler will now be ruled a knock-on, while players will also be penalised for stepping over a defender to place them in the ruck. In both cases, the RFL announcement adds: "If necessary the player (with the ball) should step backwards."

A penalty will also be awarded "if the ball is forcibly heeled back with the intention of contacting the defending player", or for passing into an opposing player in and around the ruck.

Speaking about the changes, the RFL's head of match officials Steve Ganson said: "A number of high-profile incidents during and before the Easter weekend have shown certain teams or players acting contrary to the spirit of the game, in a manner that has infuriated fellow professionals, broadcasters and, crucially, supporters.

"After internal consultation, we have therefore decided to make these changes to referee policy with immediate effect, applying throughout the game. This is an unusual step, but not unprecedented - and we hope it will be welcomed by coaches, players and supporters."