Defending teams will be given every opportunity by referees to regroup following a 40/20 kick in the NRL’s latest tweaking of its rules on Thursday.
The quick tap that followed a 40/20 kick is now effectively outlawed following the farcical scenes that concluded Parrramatta’s loss to Canterbury last Friday, when Eels halfback Chris Sandow was prohibited from taking a quick restart because of a ballboy error.
In a statement released on Thursday just hours before the start of round 24, the NRL said a meeting of the game’s Competition Committee, support was reiterated for the new rule, which eliminated scrums at the re-start following a 40-20 at the start of the season.
However, “from tonight, the tap kick can only be taken after the referee has blown his whistle,” the statement read.
“Referees will give defending teams a reasonable time to get into position before signalling a restart of play.”
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said the change would eliminate confusion regarding the rule.
“The tap kick was never designed to allow teams a lightning fast restart of play,” Greenberg said.
“It was introduced to eliminate time wasting in setting up a scrum which often negated the advantage of kicking a 40/20.
“The clarification of the rule is aimed at keeping the game flowing while giving defending teams a chance to get into position.”
Sydney Roosters premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson, who is on the committee, backed the change.
“It will be clear to everyone now that the restart cannot be taken until the referee has blown his whistle,” Robinson said.
Referees boss Tony Archer also welcomed the move.
“Teams will still be expected to be ready to restart play quickly but everyone will know when the tap can take place,” Archer said.
Canterbury host Wests Tigers in the opening game of round 24 at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.