Rule changes to help attackers

Rugby League
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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

This weekend's matches will be the last played under familiar rules, with sweeping changes in the way the game is played coming in next week.

From Monday, games in the three divisions of the , the Alliance and Academy competitions will feature significant differences. In future, the side scoring points will kick off, thus effectively giving possession to the opposition and, in theory, evening up contests.

Two other rule changes affect league's most distinctive feature, the play-the-ball. The side without possession will no longer be allowed to strike for the ball, but the man with the ball will have to play it backwards. That means he will not be allowed to play it to himself and run - even if there is no marker.

The other change, moving scrums 20 rather than 10 metres from touch, will make less obvious difference to the way the game is played, but will, again in theory, open up the attacking options from scrums.

The changes, suggested at a conference of coaches in November, were approved by the Council this week. They are still regarded as experimental, but all the signs are that, if successful, they will be adopted by the Super League.

Maurice Lindsay, the League's chief executive, said: "Our aim is to make the game of rugby league as exciting and thrilling as possible for our supporters. We believe that these new moves will do exactly that."

Dewi Morris, the former England rugby union scrum-half, has ruled out coming out of retirement to play for Workington, whose opponents tonight, Sheffield Eagles, will be without Paul Dixon, suspended for one match yesterday.

Barrie McDermott, the Leeds prop, has escaped without a ban after being sent off, and his club have joined the bidding for the All Black Junior Tonu.

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