2020 NRL Rule Change Part 2 - Mid-air Contact Image
Photo: By Paul Arandale

2020 NRL Rule Change Part 2 - Mid-air Contact

For Part 2 of my analysis of the NRL rule changes, I take a brief look at the mid-air contact rule.

This season will see the NRL adopt the International ruling for mid-air contact. From now on, contacting a player in midair will be banned whether the player initiating contact is the attacking player or the defending player. I can’t think of too many, if any International games where this rule has caused an issue, but if you can think of one let us know in the comments section.

Like any rule change or new rule, coaches will be working overtime to exploit the rule to their advantage and why not… rules are in place to protect players, but they are also there to be tested. Here’s a couple of hypothetical situations that may or may not play out in 2020.

Firstly, if two players from opposing sides simultaneously run and jump for the ball and are both knocked rotten, who gets the penalty? I’m all for player safety but awarding a penalty in a situation where no one is at fault could be crucial. Does the ref pack a scrum, rule a play the ball or does the NRL no fault policy come onto the field here?

We have seen some horrible incidents over the past few years with players having their legs taken out from underneath them, so I fully support tinkering with the rule to protect players, but is this a rule that needs to be black and white?

Secondly, how does a defending player on his own try line stop a flying Daniel Tupou from scoring when he leaps at the ball from the field of play and lands in the in-goal area? Should it be like a voluntary tackle where the defender just has to place a hand on the man with the ball?

I’ve got a feeling every NRL club is now practicing their cross kicks for fake runners to deliberately jump into defending players in an attempt to gain an advantage. Good luck being a referee, winger or outside back.

Like all of us we will have to wait and see if this rule works or not but at least it is good to see the NRL falling in line with International laws. Now to get the rest of rules on the same page.

About Paul Arandale

Paul is a BarTV Sports commentator and Newcastle & Hunter Rugby League board member. He is also a skilled freelance photographer and author.

Click here to see all articles by Paul Arandale.

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