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SCRUMS will return in domestic competition next year, the Rugby Football League has confirmed.
The game has been played without scrums since the coronavirus-enforced suspension of the 2020 season.
As an area of increased contact, scrums were replaced by a handover of possession to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 infection and minimise the number of players required to isolate.
It had been hoped they could be reintroduced at some point in 2021 but conditions were not considered right.
Now, with vaccination rates at clubs reaching 85 per cent, there is more confidence for 2022 and their return has been approved by the RFL’s laws committee for the professional and community games.
A statement from the governing body read: “The availability and efficacy of vaccines have substantially changed (the) situation, with fully vaccinated players no longer required to isolate as close contacts and the risk of transmission and severity of illness being reduced for those who are vaccinated.
“The laws committee heard evidence that vaccination rates are already approaching the 85 per cent threshold and that, at a number of clubs, the rates are already in excess of 90 per cent.
“Clubs have been urged to encourage their players to ensure full vaccination by the end of 2021.”
The statement added that the RFL will continue to monitor the situation and will reserve the right to further suspend scrums should it be deemed necessary.
The laws committee has also approved a return to the old rule regarding ball-stealing. At the start of the 2021 season, the RFL adopted a rule used in Australia’s NRL and the international game whereby a single defender could legally strip the ball from an attacking player even if other defenders had previously been involved in the tackle.
The RFL has now accepted this has “led to negative play, provided a negative look to the game and was very difficult to officiate.”
From next year ball-stripping from an attacking player will only be permitted in a one-on-one tackle.
In a third change to rules, injured players will be required to leave or be removed from the field to receive treatment. This comes following complaints about stoppages.
“This will ensure the effective treatment of players remains a priority without encouraging gamesmanship while retaining an entertaining spectacle,” the RFL said.
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