NRL 2021: Radical new rule changes announced for next season

The NRL has announced a handful of rule changes to make the game "faster, more free-flowing, entertaining and unpredictable".

On Friday, a newly formed innovation committee - featuring the likes of NRL chairman Peter V'Landys, coaches Craig Bellamy (Melbourne Storm) and Ricky Staurt (Canberra Raiders), and players Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters) and Damian Cook (SouthSydney Rabbitohs) - met to discuss several recommendations for the 2021 season and beyond.

Among a slew of changes to have been green-lit are the introduction of a two-point field goal from beyond 40 metres, 'six again' calls for 10-metre infringements, and play-the-ball restarts replacing scrums when the ball goes into touch.

V'Landys believes the adjustments will take the spectacle of rugby league to new heights by striking a better balance between offence and defence.

"The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear - the game became too predictable, and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence," he tells

"Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges, and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further."

One of the more striking additions is the two-point rule for 40m-plus field goals, designed to "encourage more unstructured play and increase the chances of a result changing in the final moments of a game".

"Providing the opportunity for a two-point play will give teams incentive to make attacking plays to get into field goal range at the end of a half," V'landys says.

"It will also ensure teams who are down by one or two points in the dying moments of a match have a better opportunity to win a game, or go to golden point."

The success of last season's new rules - most notably the 'six again' call replacing penalties - encouraged the commission to go even further with its innovation.

"You only have to look at the data - there were more tries, more line-breaks and more minutes of ball in play, and the response from our fans and players has been positive," says V’landys.

"We want to attract new fans to our game and we want our current fans to keep coming back to watch games live at the ground or on TV."

Full list of new rules:

  • the introduction of a two-point field goal for kicks taken from more than 40 metres out;

  • six-again to be called for 10-metre infringements;

  • penalties for teams if they leave a scrum before a referee calls "break";

  • a play-the-ball restart if the ball or player with the ball goes over the sideline;

  • The Bunker will now review replays after an on-field referee awards a try but a conversion attempt will not be allowed until it gets the green light;

  • injured players will be interchanged if a trainer ask for play to be stopped;

  • when a captain's challenge is inconclusive a team will not be docked for an unsuccessful attempt;

  • and a handover will be ordered when a player does not make a genuine attempt to play the ball correctly with their foot.