League rule changes for 2008

The 2008 NRL premiership will include fewer interchanges per game and the grapple tackle stripped from players' repertoire among experimental rule amendments and changes to referee interpretations for next season.

There will be two experimental rule amendments and changes to referee's interpretation in six key areas, the National Rugby League announced.

The two experimental rule amendments approved are reducing the number of interchanges, use of replacement players, from 12 to 10 a match and ball stripping permitted if the ball carrier is in the act of trying to ground the ball for a try.

The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) gave approval on Christmas Eve for the experimental law amendments after a review where coaches, players, referees, club officials and the boards of the NRL and ARL were consulted.

Interpretation changes within the NRL premiership do not need RLIF consent.

The six interpretation changes include scrapping the grapple/wrestle tackle from the game.

Any prolonged contact with the head or neck will be penalised and more serious cases will involve a visit to the judiciary.

In tackles known as The Crusher where a player uses his body weight to bend and exert pressure on another players head/neck, the judiciary will treat them very seriously and they'll be graded accordingly.

Props will have to bind tighter on the feeding side at scrums with their outside leg forward so the half-back puts the ball into the tunnel, which should minimise forwards leaving the scrum early and play breaking down at the scrum base.

Referees can allow quick 20 metre restarts once officials are in position regardless of whether defence is ready or not.

Also referees can ask the video referee to check on ball stripping if unsure, which depends on the NRL reaching agreement with broadcasters so games are not delayed.

Kickers will have more protection with the tackler or tacklers not to contact the punter dangerously.

Goal-line restarts will have a standard time where the referee can warn teams once and then give a penalty kick 10 metres out if the warning is ignored.

The video referee will monitor the time and notify the referee.

And referees are to be more vigilant on players trying to gain head start on 10 metres at ruck.

- NRL Media release

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