Five changes to the Laws of Rugby have come into effect…
Law 3: Number of Players – The Team
Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.
Reasoning: To discourage teams from deliberate infringements and going to uncontested scrums.
Law 5.7 (e): Time (applied in Vodacom Super Rugby in 2016, now on trial globally)
If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.
Reasoning: To discourage teams from infringing in the dying moments of the game.
Law 8.1 (a): Advantage
When there are multiple penalty infringements by the same team, the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous of the penalty marks.
Reasoning: To discourage repeat offending when the advantage is already being played and to reward teams against whom repeat offending has taken place.
Law 9 (a.1): Method of Scoring
If a player would probably have scored a try but for foul play by an opponent, a penalty try is awarded. No conversion is attempted and value of the try is seven points.
Reasoning: To discourage teams from illegally preventing a probable try from being scored while also saving time on the clock by negating the need for a conversion.
Law 19: Touch and Lineout
• A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.
Reasoning: This brings into law something that is already applied in practice. It means that a player “juggling” the ball does not have to be in contact with it at the exact moment of touching the touchline or the ground beyond it for the ball to be deemed to be in touch. This makes it easier for the match officials to adjudicate.