The Australian Rugby League Commission has voted to use one referee for the rest of the season as well as scrapping penalties for ruck infringements to create a more "entertaining and free-flowing".
The officials and rule changes were ratified on Wednesday night and is sure to upset many in the game after coaches insisting rugby league needed to stamp wrestling out of the game.
Senior referees will be used as touch judges, who will replace part-time officials previously in the sideline role.
The referee will award six more tackles to attacking teams in lieu of stopping the game to award a penalty for slowing down the ruck.
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and Sydney Roosters mentor Trent Robinson were among the NRL brainstrust who spoke out against cutting back to one on-field referee.
Commission chairman Peter V'landys said: "The decision shouldn't been seen as taking one referee out it should be that we are using three full time experienced referees controlling the game which will ensure greater surveillance of the ruck and the wrestle.
"This decision will significantly reduce the number of stoppages in games and showcase more open unstructured play for the benefit of fans.
"These decisions address the issue of wrestling and slowing the ruck down which has been the biggest issue in the game.
"It's clear the current system hasn't effectively addressed the issue of wrestling in the game. Reverting to one referee together with the new six again rule gives us a chance to speed up the ruck and create more free flowing rugby league.
"Giving the attacking team six more tackles for a ruck infringement will be a significant deterrent to slowing the ruck."
"No team is going to want to defend multiple sets of tackles without a stoppage in play. This is the greatest disincentive for what has become habitual ruck infringements."
Meanwhile, Gold Coast captain Ryan James says it will be unfair if Queensland teams can't host NRL games this year due to the state's flu vaccination stance.
The NRL is still trying to work out a revised draw for 2020, but some players refusal to take a flu jab looms as a complicating factor.
The Queensland government has confirmed it won't allow players who have not been immunised without a medical excuse to train and play in the state.
The NSW opposition also piled the pressure on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to do the same on Wednesday, in a move that would affect up to four interstate clubs.
Regardless, Queensland's stance has already forced Titans players Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly to stand down, with the pair required to tell the club by Thursday if they will adhere to a formal request to take the needle.
But it also means interstate clubs could be affected when their team travels to Queensland.
Manly's Dylan Walker and Canterbury's Sione Katoa have already refused the inoculation, with Canberra's Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola and Joe Tapine refusing to take the measure. Their stance has prompted the NRL to consider having all games played in NSW pending any easing of the government stance to avoid teams losing some players for matches played in Queensland.
That however would not save Cartwright or Kelly's season, given they will be unable to train with the club until they receive the flu immunisation
"It probably would be (unfair)," James said. "To have those players stood down and not have any games here would be taking it to another level.
"I don't think you would be able to take those games away from Queensland because you wouldn't get any home games and would have to travel."
James said that while there would be no fans in stadiums, there was an advantage in playing at home given the travel required to fly to and from Sydney. The Titans captain had contacted Cartwright and Kelly but did not try to influence their decision ahead of Thursday's deadline.
"It would be brave of them (to stick to their position)," James said. "Not too many people are willing to fight for what they believe in."