FANS can expect a quicker game when the rugby league season resumes, referees chief Steve Ganson believes.

Super League, which was halted in March, is due to return from its coronavirus-enforced break on August 2, with the Challenge Cup following later in the same month.

Some changes to game rules and regulations have been agreed during the four-month stoppage, for both reasons related to Covid-19 and under a planned review process.

Chief among them are the scrapping of scrums on health grounds and the introduction of the ‘six again’ rule already in place in Australia.

Scrums are being removed on health grounds as a temporary measure to limit the potential spread of coronavirus.

They will be replaced by a simple handover of possession that will still involve a stoppage in play.

The ‘six again’ rule, however, which will see teams awarded a fresh set of six tackles instead of a penalty for certain offences, has the potential to speed up play.

St Helens Star: Steve Ganson

Steve Ganson is the Rugby Football League’s head of match officials

Ganson, the Rugby Football League’s head of match officials, said: “Having watched the game in the NRL I think that would be a fair assumption, but you are going to need to look at a greater depth of time.

“But I think what we can say is it isn’t going to be slower.

“It is going to be new for our refs but all that is really happening is the ball remains in play rather than a penalty being awarded. It makes the game more continuous.

“An average stoppage for a penalty would have resulted in about 22 seconds. On a wipedown the ball remains in play. There isn’t that stoppage time.”

In addition to the removal of scrums, players will not be permitted to gather in huddles after scoring tries or behind the posts prior to conversions being taken.

These measures should not only reduce the risk of spreading infection but also improve the RFL’s ability to test and trace players should another player subsequently test positive for COVID-19.

After the changes, only the tackle will remain as one of the “high-risk” contact areas identified in a review of the game.

RFL chief on-field officer Dave Rotheram said: “We had to look at risk mitigation to get the game back on.

“As a responsible governing body and employers we were duty-bound to do that and look at adapting the laws of the game.

"If it made the game safer we had to seriously look at it.”