Law change to be trialled this weekend following Freddie Steward's controversial red card - Ruck

Law change to be trialled this weekend following Freddie Steward’s controversial red card

In a groundbreaking move set to captivate the rugby world, the highly anticipated ‘TMO bunker’ is set to make its world stage debut starting tomorrow at the U20 championship.

This innovative system will revolutionise the game by allowing a yellow card given on-field to be upgraded to a red card within the 10-minute sin bin period. Following a successful trial run in Super Rugby Pacific earlier this season, World Rugby is determined to enhance officiating, optimize game flow, and prioritize player welfare through this game-altering technology.

Should the trial prove successful, brace yourself for the possibility of witnessing this transformative system in action during this summer’s senior Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, and even in the prestigious tournament itself. The future of rugby officiating is on the precipice of change!

Enthusiasm for this groundbreaking innovation is palpable among top players, including England’s exceptional fullback, Freddie Steward, who enthusiastically shared his thoughts with MailOnline.


Steward, who was controversially issued a red card following a collision with Ireland’s Hugo Keenan during the Six Nations, recognizes the immense value the TMO bunker brings to the game. With extended review times at the disposal of dedicated officials, crucial decisions can be made accurately without disrupting the exhilarating flow of the match for endless minutes.

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“When incidents like that occur, the involvement of the TMO and the referee can drain the excitement from the game,” Steward explained. “By entrusting the review process to other officials while the game continues, I believe it’s a brilliant idea that keeps the game in full swing. It’s a welcomed change.”

Get ready to witness the dawn of a new era in rugby officiating, as the TMO bunker reshapes the landscape of the sport, ensuring fairness, efficiency, and an uninterrupted spectacle for fans around the globe.

World Rugby’s principles for the trial are as follows:

  • Clear and obvious red cards for foul play will receive a red card resulting in the player being permanently being removed from the game and unable to be replaced 
  • For any incident where a red card is not initially clear and obvious, a yellow card will be issued and dedicated foul play reviewers in a central bunker will review the incident using all available technology and footage 
  • Once 10 minutes has elapsed, the yellow card is either upheld and the player returns to the action or it is upgraded and the player permanently leaves the field, unable to be replaced

Nigel Owens calls for FIVE law changes ahead of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Referee, Nigel Owens during the Heineken Champions Cup Final Match between Exeter Chiefs and Racing 92 at Ashton Gate, Bristol on the 17 Oct. PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Popular former international referee Nigel Owens says rugby’s new Laws are NOT working to improve the game.

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He’s also not a fan of the new tackle height laws that have caused controversy ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“I don’t think people are signing a petition not wanting to make the game safe.” said Owens

“They are signing it because they want to know how this is going to better the game, how is it going to make the game safer.

“If the ball carrier is going to ground near the try-line, how are you going to be able to get below his waist to tackle him?

“How do you now set up a maul? Because the ball-carrier is on his feet, the defenders wrap around him and you can’t join a maul below the waist.

“There are a lot of question marks and that is what needs to be addressed.”

Owens, who hung up his whistle two years ago, has come up with five possible changes to encourage expansive rugby.


#1. Scrap the goal-line dropout

Owens wrote: “As for goal-line dropouts, I was a big fan initially because I felt it would prevent attacking teams from numerous pick-and-gos near the try line, with teams instead attempting to move the ball wide to avoid being held up and losing possession.

” But I’m not sure it has worked as planned. We still see plenty of pick-and-gos until teams get over, we still see plenty of mauls and the number of collisions hasn’t decreased.

“We are also seeing fewer scrums near the goal line, and to be honest I’m not sure that is a good thing. The scrum needs to be an important part of the game, and right now we are not seeing the benefits of it. Rugby must continue to be a game for all shapes and sizes, and at all levels, too.

Attacking teams are also kicking longer knowing that if the ball rolls dead, the defending team has to do a goal-line dropout and they can get the ball back.

“We’ve also lost the short dropouts we used to see from the 22-metre line where teams would compete to win the ball back, or a quick dropout would be taken, because teams now backed up on their goal line just kick the ball long to escape and what happens? The opposition kick it back.

“From initially believing it would work, I would now like the goal-line dropout law to go to be honest. If anything it is having a negative effect.”