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A scrum between Salford Red Devils and Catalan Dragons.

Scrums may be scrapped and the NRL's new six-again rule introduced when Super League resumes in a bid to reduce the risk of players contracting COVID-19.

The changes will be considered by Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs ahead of possible implementation at the next RFL Board meeting in early July to help make the sport safer in the current public health situation.

The RFL Laws Committee recommended to clubs that they consider the removal of scrums from all fixtures for the rest of 2020, pending further clarification from Public Health England.

Medical experts on the committee presented strong evidence showing this would considerably reduce the threat of potential exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 between players during matches – and therefore reduce the risk of major disruption to any rearranged fixture list because of positive tests.

The introduction of the six-again whereby the tackle count is re-started for ruck infringements rather than a penalty being awarded is also viewed as having health benefits.

Officials believe the increased speed of play-the-balls under the six-again rule would reduce the number of players in each tackle and the amount of time spent in close contact.

"These are major recommendations, but these are unprecedented times, presenting the game with unique challenges," said RFL CEO and chair of the Laws Committee Ralph Rimmer.

"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."

A further three NRL rule changes introduced earlier in 2020 are being considered for the resumption of the northern hemisphere season:

  • When a team kicks out on the full, play will be restarted by a play-the-ball rather than a scrum;
  • The restart following a mutual infringement (such as the ball hitting the referee or a trainer) will be a play-the-ball rather than a scrum;
  • Restrictions on the legal point of contact for a third defender in an upright tackle, which must now be above the knee.

"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 said.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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