Injury-prevention focused law change has taken another significant step forward with World Rugby’s Executive Committee approving a package of law amendments for closed trial.
The approved package of six law amendments for trial are:
- 50:22 kick: If the team in possession kicks the ball from inside their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents’ 22 or from inside their own 22 into their opponents’ half, they will throw in to the resultant lineout
Rationale: To create space by forcing players to drop back out of the defensive line in order to prevent their opponents from kicking for touch. Approved for closed trial in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) in Australia
- The High Tackle Technique Warning This has been successfully trialled at the World Rugby U20 Championship for the last two years reducing the incidence of concussion by more than 50 per cent
Rationale: Head Injury prevention strategy. Approved for further closed trials
- Reducing the tackle height to the waist. Rationale: Forcing players to tackle lower may reduce the risk of head injuries to both the tackler and tackled player. Approved for closed trials
- Ability to review a yellow card when a player is in the sin-bin for dangerous foul play: Rationale: To ensure players who are guilty of serious foul play do not escape with a yellow card when they deserved red. Approved for closed trials
- The introduction of an infringement (penalty and free-kick) limit for teams. Once a team has reached the limit, a mandatory yellow card is given to the last offending player as a team sanction. Rationale: To encourage teams to offend less. Approved for closed trial in the National Rugby Championship in Australia
- The awarding of a goal-line drop-out to the defending team when an attacking player, who brings the ball into in-goal, is held up. Rationale: To reward good defence and promote a faster rate of play. Approved for closed trial in the National Rugby Championship in Australia
A further law trial was approved for implementation in the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series from the next season:
- One additional replacement per team to be allowed during extra-time in a sevens match. Rationale: To manage player fatigue and workload. Approved for closed trial in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series
In addition to the approved trials, the Executive Committee ratified the recommendation of the Rugby Committee, instructing further evaluation in the following areas:
- Reduction in the number of permitted substitutions.
Rationale: To encourage more space and opportunities towards the end of the game as on-field players tire. World Rugby to sponsor more research to determine if there is a player welfare benefit
- Off feet at the ruck – players must move away from the ball without delay.
Rationale: To ensure more space and time is afforded to the attacking side. Specialist working group to be formed to assess all issues regarding the ruck/ breakdown.