World Rugby has announced an immediate amendment to Law 3 to stipulate that a match cannot restart until a player leaving the field of play for a blood injury or Head Injury Assessment (HIA) has been temporarily replaced.
The amendment, approved by the international federation’s Executive Committee, codifies an area that was previously at the discretion of the referee. It has the dual intention of promoting player welfare best practice by enabling a player to be assessed and treated as soon as possible, while also ensuring that teams are not disadvantaged by playing with fewer players than permitted for a short period.
The amendments apply only to elite matches that have been approved for HIA and the use of temporary substitutions.
This follows on from when Wales winger George North scored in the 34th minute while England had yet to send on a temporary replacement for scrum-half Willi Heinz, who had to come off the field to have a head injury assessment.
England coach Eddie Jones later remarked that referee Pascal Gauzere should have got a “yellow card” for allowing play to restart before the replacement had taken the field.