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New rules to feature in statewide competitions in 2020

All four Queensland Rugby League statewide competitions - Intrust Super Cup, QRL Women's Premiership, Hastings Deering Colts and Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup - will see new rules introduced in the 2020 season.

The rule changes, outlined below, are designed to make the game of rugby league a more engaging product overall.

“The whole rationale of rule adoption and modification is to reduce the amount of time the ball is not in play,” QRL statewide competitions manager Dave Maiden said.

“We want to reintroduce an element of fatigue, encourage a fluid rugby league style of play and increase the enjoyment and excitement factor for our consumers and fans.”

QRL has retained the rule introduced last year which saw a tackle count restart if a player went down to waste time and then regained their position in the defensive line.

New rules 

Mandatory six-player scrums

All teams must pack six players in every scrum, regardless of number of players on the field (ie: if a player/s is/are in the sin bin).


  • The previous rule of having a mandatory seven backs was introduced when scrummaging was an art and having six v five in the scrum was a distinct advantage
  • Having to defend six (or less) on seven removes the desire to run time down while players are in the sin bin by kicking over the sideline
  • Encourages either an open style of play with fleet-footed players, or brings bigger players into the game by pitting them against smaller opposition closer to the line

Scrum clock - 30 seconds

  • The match officials will administer the 30-second scrum clock as they did for goal line drop-outs last year
  • Teams must pack and feed within 30 seconds or a penalty will be given against the offending team
  • Match officials will provide updates of time remaining before a penalty is awarded
  • The 30-second clock remains for goal line drop-outs

Ball in play

  • Players who go down with non-life-threatening ailments after either a goal line drop-out or a scrum has been awarded will need to join the defensive line prior to the expiration of the 30-second count down
  • If a trainer enters the field of play to assess a player and doesn’t call for time out before the expiration of the 30-second count down, a penalty will be awarded to the non-offending team
  • If a trainer enters the field of play to assess a player and calls for time out and then the player is fit to re-join the defensive line, then that player must be removed from the field until their team regains possession
  • The player must run to leave the field of play to their team bench by the most direct route
  • Any player who is injured prior to a goal line drop-out or a scrum being awarded is not included in the above rules
  • Player wellbeing takes precedence, as always

Mid-air tackle

The act of tackling a player in mid-air will be banned, whether the player initiating contact is the attacking player or the defending player, in line with the current international laws of the game.

Mutual infringement

The “mutual infringement” law will be amended, allowing the referee to replay the previous play-the-ball in the event of play being irregularly affected by circumstances out of the players' control.

All rules can be found in the 2020 Statewide Competitions Operations Manual.

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour 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.