The RFL have announced a handful of operational rules that will take place in 2020.
One rule states that teams will now announce a 21-man squad two days before fixtures in the 2020 season.
Previously, teams have had to announce 19-player squads ahead of their fixtures, but this has been increased after feedback from all sections of the game, including supporters and the media.
But for each player from outside that 21 who is then called into the team’s 17-player match-day squad, that team will lose one of the eight interchanges permitted for all fixtures in the Betfred Super League, Championship, League 1, the Coral Challenge Cup and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup.
The only exceptions to this will involve the Dual Registration system – if a player on Dual Registration is recalled by their parent club after the partner club has named a 21-player squad, they can be replaced in the 21 without the partner club losing an interchange; and in the unusual situation of a club losing a player at a tribunal hearing after the squad declaration deadline (for example on a Tuesday evening for a Thursday night fixture), when again they can be replaced without sanction.
Elsewhere, a limited number of amateur players can now be registered by Betfred League 1 clubs (up to 10 players), Betfred Championship clubs (up to 5), and Betfred Super League clubs for Reserves League fixtures only (up to two). All clubs in the revived RFL Reserves League will also be able to register an additional two University players.
In addition, players registered with Betfred League 1 and Championship clubs will be able to “train up” with Betfred Super League clubs (they have previously been able to do so only on loan deals of a 28-day minimum), while the Dual Registration system will also be extended so that one player from each League 1 club can be dual registered with a Championship or a Super League club, and one player from each Championship club with a Super League club. No club will be able to dual register more than one player under this addition.
In a further change designed to benefit players at Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs, the rules relating to making approaches to players registered at other clubs have been standardised, so that such approaches will now be permitted to part-time and full-time players from May 1 in the last year of their contract – whereas previously, clubs have only been permitted to approach part-time players from September 1.
Karen Moorhouse, the RFL’s Chief Regulatory Officer, said: “The annual redrafting of the Operational Rules is a consultative process, as always designed to serve the good of the game as a whole, and of clubs and players in particular.
“The change to the Squad Declaration system was proposed in response to feedback from various sections of the game, including supporters and the media. As with all the other changes, we will monitor the impact of the changes carefully through the 2020 season. We are grateful to all who have contributed to this process.”