The NRL is cracking down on time-wasting tactics. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The NRL is cracking down on time-wasting tactics. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NRL cracks down on time-wasting tactics

TRAINERS could be sent off as part of a new NRL crackdown into time-wasting.

The NRL has warned clubs they also face hefty fines if they are found to be attempting to have a match stopped through players staying down with only minor injuries.

Referees have been told not to stop play for injury unless a doctor is required.

In a strongly-worded edict to all 16 clubs, the NRL said play was "only to be stopped for serious injuries which necessitate a doctor coming onto the field" or it impacted with play.

"Any trainer who unnecessarily attempts to stop play for tactical reasons may be ordered from the playing area for the remainder of the match," the letter said.

It is all part of the NRL's new push to reduce stoppages and keep the ball in play for longer.

Statistics indicate play has been stopped over the past two years just about every time a player stays down injured.

The mandate reads: "Should a doctor be required on the field, the head trainer who performs the initial assessment of the player is to attract the attention of the nearest touch judge who can electronically communicate with the referee to advise the injury is of a serious nature.

Trainers can be sent off for engaging in the tactic. Picture: Brett Costello
Trainers can be sent off for engaging in the tactic. Picture: Brett Costello

"It is important to note that play is not to be stopped for any other reason unless the referee feels the player requiring attention is at risk of interfering with play.

"It is not a reason to stop play if a player requires trainer administered medical assessment, treatment or assistance.

"In addition to the potential of a breach notice and financial penalty, any trainer who unnecessarily attempts to stop play for tactical reasons may be ordered from the playing area for the remainder of the match."

Coaches are often accused of encouraging players to stay down so his team can compose themselves and benefit from extra recovery time.

The coach who leaked the memo said: "It's obviously linked to the NRL trying to turn around the increase in stoppage time."

The NRL is introducing multiple rules to speed up the game. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The NRL is introducing multiple rules to speed up the game. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NRL head of elite football operations Graham Annesley said it was another area in which the game could tighten.

"It's still at the discretion of the referee - they can't assume the role of a doctor and say to a trainer that 'this isn't a serious injury and I'm not stopping play'," Annesley said.

"But, we have reminded clubs that we will be watching to ensure the rule isn't being abused. If the player is out of play, then he should be attended to out of play while the game continues.

"We have an objective this year to reduce stoppages in games and reduce the length of stoppages in games.

"The competition committee has already taken steps to reduce the shot clocks, for example. We're trying to get more continuity of play for the fans and we wanted to remind the clubs of that."

Clubs were also told that all goal kicks - conversions and penalties - were to be completed inside one minute and 40 seconds.

The edict read: "Time is calculated from the awarding of a try or penalty until the time the ball is kicked. Where a player is taking excessive time, a referee will call 'time-out' after one minute and 20 seconds - this stops the game clock."