How NRL’s obsession with speed has changed the league in 2021

How long is a half of rugby league?

Most fans would say 40 minutes.

But players, coaches and no doubt media executives know the truth: between 42 and 52 minutes, unless there’s a major injury (more on that later).

There are two ways of dragging out the action. Not only are there times the clock stops, but many periods during a game the clock continues even where players are resting.

Apart from injuries, scoring — especially the delay around goal kicking — is the main source of slowdowns.

But rule changes in 2021 are also eating into players’ breaks.

The need for rest is why the decisions this year to do away with scrums off kicks into touch, introduce set restarts for offsides and accelerate bunker reviews of tries are so…

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