On Friday it was confirmed that the RFL had implemented five law changes for the 2024 season with issues such as ‘Six Again’, the ‘Green Card’ and scrums being looked at.
There was also a change to tackle technique, effectively outlawing the technique utilised most notoriously by Leigh Leopards skipper John Asiata, something that St Helens boss Paul Wellens will presumably be happy about.
What exactly do the changes mean though and how will it affect gameplay during the 2024 season? Forget all the legal and technical jargon, here’s a simple breakdown of what you can expect to be different when the 2024 season gets underway.
1 – Scrum Penalties
Teams awarded penalties from scrums can now opt to repack the scrum. This is a conscious effort to encourage attacking play from scrums. It also is intended to stop defending players from deliberately breaking up the scrum.
2 – Six Again
Six Again was a controversial issue at times last season, particularly early in the year when teams were accused of committing fouls knowing they would rather defend an extra tackle, than potentially be exposed when they weren’t set.
As such the rule changes now to mean penalties committed against a team within their own 40 metres are met with a penalty, not a Six Again. This has been done to counter teams “deliberately conceding six-agains early in the tackle count to gain a tactical advantage.”
There’s also a specific provision in this section that states officials will be strict on the ruck area. That means players must make genuine attempts to contact the ball with their foot when playing it.
3 – 18th Man
The 18th man wasn’t utilised that much last season as they could only take to the field if three players had failed HIAs. The rule will now see the 18th man used if just two players fail HIAs, or when a player can’t return to the field due to injury caused be serious foul play from an opponent.
This means players will be protected more and also means those injured in acts of foul play can also be replaced, a welcome change for coaches surely.
4 – Reckless Endangerment (Tackle Technique)
The statement from the RFL explains that due to an increase in lower limb injuries players will be punished if they do not make a ‘controlled’ attempt to tackle.
This vocabulary is similar given that Paul Wellens described John Asiata as ‘out of control’ when his tackles saw the likes of Agnatius Paasi and Alex Walmsley suffer serious ‘lower limb injuries’.
This law only applies when the tackle makes contract with the lower legs with indicators including the tackler being in a situation as described below.
– off their feet at point of contact
– not attempting to wrap
– making contact with knee or below
– putting their head in front of the ball carrier
– not looking at the ball carrier e.g. eyes to the floor (in the opinion of the official)
5 – Green Card
The Green Card will now be limited to just Super League and will only apply to players on the defending team, meaning the ball carrier cannot be shown the green card.