Super League: Scrums may be scrapped temporarily to reduce risk of coronavirus spread

By Dave WoodsBBC rugby league correspondent
Rugby league scrum
Super League clubs are being asked for their feedback about the RFL Laws Committee's suggested rule alterations

Scrums could be temporarily scrapped when rugby league makes its expected return in the UK in August.

Super League clubs have been advised outlawing scrums for the rest of 2020 may help dramatically reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus in games.

Medical experts told the Rugby Football League's Laws Committee that scrums are responsible for a large proportion of face-to-face interactions in matches.

How a game would restart in their absence has not yet been resolved.

However, the committee has recommended that scrums be abolished for the remainder of this season,external-link which it is hoped could have a significant effect on reducing the number of players who would need to be quarantined if any player tested positive in the days after a match.

Super League, Championship and League One clubs have been asked for their feedback before an RFL board meeting in early July, when the change is likely to be rubber-stamped.

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL's chief executive and chair of the Laws Committee, said: "These are major recommendations, but these are unprecedented times, presenting the game with unique challenges. The committee recognised the importance of consulting widely within the game before the recommendations are put to the RFL board, and that process has already started.

"But we believe rugby league is well served by its agility, in terms of being able to consider and implement such significant changes."

Other changes that have been recommended for consideration are an adoption of the recent rule changes brought in by Australia's National Rugby League, including the so-called "six again" rule.

Under that rule, referees reset the tackle count rather than award a penalty for the majority of infringements in the ruck. That has led to quicker, faster-flowing matches in the NRL in the two weeks since the change was introduced.

It is a change that is also attractive to the rule makers in England because it leads to less contact time in the tackle and again reduces the likelihood of the spread of coronavirus on the field.

That will also be debated by clubs and voted on by the RFL board of directors in July to be brought in for the rest of this season.

"The recommendation to adopt a number of the rule changes that have been introduced in the NRL in 2020 will also assist in the important process of aligning the rules across both hemispheres," Rimmer added.

The NRL has not outlawed scrums since it restarted its season behind closed doors in late May, but medical advisers here say the public health situation in Australia is very different to the situation in the UK.

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