England will be effected by a number of law changes this summer - Ruck

England will be effected by a number of law changes this summer

n its quest to enhance rugby’s entertainment value and expand its audience share in the coming years, World Rugby has unveiled its roadmap for transforming the sport’s appeal.

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This initiative stems from the Shape of the Game forum held earlier this year, where stakeholders devised an action plan to revitalise the rugby experience amidst evolving sports and entertainment landscapes.

Outlined in a comprehensive five-phase approach, World Rugby aims to delve into, embrace, and experiment with key innovations identified during the forum. Through a deliberate emphasis on both player and fan satisfaction, the focus remains on making rugby more captivating and accessible to a wider, younger demographic.

Central to this evolution is the enhancement of fluid ball movement, the reduction of interruptions, and the prioritisation of player welfare—a strategic trifecta aimed at propelling rugby into a more engaging and sustainable future.

First phase: Law Application Guidelines reinforcing existing law 

From 19 March, there will be an expectation of strict application of current law by referees globally via the following Law Application Guidelines, focusing on speeding up play:

  • Law 15.17: Players will be expected to use the ball more quickly when the ball has been secured at a ruck/breakdown. Referees will be asked to call “use it” earlier, which will begin the five second count to play the ball away.
  • Law 19.10: Hookers will be expected to maintain a full brake foot to aid scrum stability and safety during the engagement sequence. Any adjustment must maintain the act of the brake.
  • Law 6.29: Strict reinforcement of the 2022 law trial relating to water carriers entering the field of play.

Second phase: Law amendment recommendations for global adoption  

A package of law amendments will be considered by the World Rugby Council at its 9 May meeting. Each is aimed at enhancing game continuity:

  • Recommendation to make adjustments to Law 10 in relation to players being put onside when there are kicks in open play, as per the current Super Rugby Pacific trial which aims to reduce kick tennis.
  • Removal of the scrum option from a free-kick, reducing dead time.
  • Outlawing the practice of the ‘croc roll’, reinforcing player welfare focus

Third phase: Closed law trials 

Unions and competition owners will be encouraged to implement a package of closed law trials which can be adopted at domestic or cross-border level, aimed at enhancing game continuity:

  • Expansion of the shot clock for scrum and lineouts and reduced kicking time.
  • Ability to mark the ball inside the 22m line from a restart, promoting attacking options.
  • The ball must be played after the maul has been stopped once, not twice.
  • Protection of the nine at the base of the scrum, ruck and at the maul following successful trials in Major League Rugby in the USA and in elite and community competitions in New Zealand.
  • Play on for lineout not straight if the throw in is uncontested.

Fouth phase: Specialist working groups

Specialist working groups will be established to further explore aspects identified by the Shape of the Game forum for further consideration. Recommendations will be made to Council.  

  • On- and off-field sanctions: Comprehensive review of the sport’s disciplinary and sanctioning processes with the objective of streamlining, increasing simplicity, consistency and fan understanding. A key consideration will be the potential to combine stronger off-field sanctions for foul play with a global red card trial where a carded player is removed for the duration of the match but may be replaced by another player after 20 minutes. The final proposal will go to World Rugby’s Council in May.
  • Tackle/Ruck/Breakdown: A major review of safety and spectacle issues as they relate to the breakdown, e.g. the impact of contesting the ball on the floor, jackal as opposed to an upright driving game.
  • Television Match Official (TMO) protocol: Determine the optimal remit for the TMO protocol, while setting new minimum standards for technology providers.
  • Replacements: Examine the latest research on the impact of fatigue and the number and timing of replacements in the elite game to determine options that might create more space on the field while improving injury rates.
  • Fan experience: Build rugby’s attention share via a fan-focused view of how the game is marketed, a consistent approach to presentation of the sport across all media environments and a focus on the moments in the game that really engage fans. This will include a thorough review of the language and terminology that is used within the game.
  • Tackle height: Consider the results of the community tackle height trials across 11 unions and consider appropriateness for elite rugby.

Fifth phase: Examine impact of specific aspects of the game in new Rugby Labs

New Rugby Labs, which enable World Rugby to test out new aspects of law in a controlled environment evaluated by data and player feedback, will be utilised to examine the impact of aspects of the game that either have an impact on speed or safety. These are likely to include the scrum engagement sequence and the tackle/ruck area.

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“Ego off the scale” – Joe Marler only hated three or four rugby players

England prop Joe Marler is never afraid of sharing an opinion or two – especially when it’s about someone he doesn’t particularly like.

#1. Gavin Henson

These two have history. Henson was ruled out for a number of weeks in 2016 after Marler clattered the Welsh Prince off the ball.

The England prop was returning to rugby after a troubled 2015-16 season, that prompted the loosehead to take a break from the game in the summer missing England’s historic 3-0 whitewash of the Wallabies Down Under.

A story from Marler’s book shows the ego of Henson in 2005 was off the scale. Being told to hurry up with his hair by his captain Gareth Thomas, the playmaker showed his skipper little respect.H

enson’s reply to Thomas was: “Alf, your mother and father have come to watch you play today, but there are 72,000 out there who have come to watch me.”

#2. Sir Clive Woodward

Woodward tore apart Eddie Jones’ side during a webinar, slamming Marler and fellow prop Dan Cole for their behaviour in a press conference prior to the loss against South Africa back in November. This wasn’t the first time the 2003 World Cup-winning coach called out the prop.

After reading an article on the Rugby Pass website highlighting Woodward’s comments, he tweeted him directly, saying: “Change the record Sir Clive – you should be grateful you can ‘milk the cow’ for another 3 years.”

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