Rules shake-up aims to speed up game


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Fewer substitutions, more tries and the novel sight of drop-kicks being used for conversions. That is the blueprint for the game in 2012 after the Rugby Football League announced a series of rule changes for next season.

Most significantly, the game in this country will fall into line with Australian and international practice by reducing the number of permitted interchanges from 12 to 10, from a four-man bench as at present. In the Academy competition it will be reduced to eight.

The revision is aimed at breaking the pattern of a seemingly endless supply of fresh forwards, who can sometimes reduce a game to a stalemate. "Fatigue should be a factor late in the game and will give creative players more time and space," said the RFL's chief executive, Nigel Woods.

Other changes include a new ruling that tries will not be disallowed for the scorer coming into contact with the corner flag. Once one is scored, sides will have the option of going for goal with a drop-kick rather than a place kick – something that could be of value for the trailing side in a tight finish. "The objectives of the changes are to ensure that rugby league retains its place as the most exciting team sport in the country," said Wood. "Rugby league prides itself on being a fast-paced, entertaining sport and these changes will ensure that remains the case."

England will play the Exiles twice in mid-season next year, after last season's relatively successful experiment. England's programme for next season will be unveiled before Christmas, but it will not include the short tour of the South Pacific that had been mooted.