The Aviva Premiership season kicks off on Friday night with Gloucester welcoming the reigning champions Exeter Chiefs to Kingsholm while Newcastle Falcons host Worcester Warriors.
All 12 teams will over the next nine months play under six new law amendments being rolled out by World Rugby.
1. Law 20.5 and 20.6 (d) The crooked feed
No signal from referee. The scrum-half must throw the ball in straight but is allowed to align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.
Rationale: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team putting the ball in (non-offending team).
2. Law 20.9 (b) Handling in the scrum – exception
The No.8 shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second rows.
Rationale: To promote continuity.
3. Law 20.8 (b) Striking after the put-in
Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in MUST strike for the ball.
Rationale: To promote a fair contest for possession.
4. Law 15.4 (c) The tackler
The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their own side of the tackle “gate”.
Rationale: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.
5. Law 16 The ruck
A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created.
Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.