Six-team tournament begins RWC 2019 cycle preparation
The World Rugby Nations Cup 2016 kicks off in Bucharest today, providing teams and fans with the opportunity to experience a number of the new law trials.
The World Rugby-funded tournament will operate with six points for a try, eight points for a penalty try (no conversion opportunity) and two points for a conversion, drop goal or penalty as part of a series of closed trials within the quadrennial law review process.
Other elements being trialled include the two-stage scrum engagement sequence, the penalty option after time has expired and the goal-line drop out for attacking offences in-goal.
The tournament will provide the opportunity for invaluable international coach, player, referee and fan feedback within comprehensive evaluation of the closed trials by the World Rugby Laws Review Group, reporting to the Rugby Committee, with recommendations made to the World Rugby Council in November 2016 as to whether to adopt or not as a global trial. Any global trials will commence in January 2017 (south) and August 2017 (north).
The Nations Cup is the latest World Rugby-funded event to feature the law trials, following well-received implementation at the Pacific Challenge, won by Fiji Warriors and the World Rugby U20 Trophy, won by Samoa. At the age-grade competition the points-scoring trial, promoted attacking play with just three penalty kicks at goal in the opening three rounds of competition, compared to 42 in the 2015 Trophy. There are also a number of domestic competitions operating closed trials during the period.
World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Officials Manager Alain Rolland said: “Our match officials have worked collaboratively with the participating teams in order that all are familiar with the laws and the feedback in advance has been positive. We look forward to the event and the valuable feedback and data that it will provide for the Laws Review Group.”
At the new-look Nations Cup, an exciting line-up of teams sees reigning champions Romania joined by fellow Rugby World Cup 2015 participants Namibia and Uruguay, along with Spain, Emerging Italy, Argentina XV in the expanded competition.
The tournament provides a strong competition platform for the respective competing unions as they begin to build towards Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, following the most competitive Rugby World Cup to date at England 2015 where the average winning margin was just 22 points across the tournament.
With the promotion of player welfare, law simplification and spectator experience at the core, the closed law trials are being trialled at domestic and international level within the current quadrennial law review process. Every four years, rugby’s governing body undertakes a complete health-check of the game’s playing trends across the Rugby World Cup cycle to ensure that the sport continues to develop at all levels around the world. This extensive process is undertaken with full union consultation. The approval of the package of law trials by the World Rugby Executive Committee in 2015 followed detailed analysis and evaluation of union submissions by the specialist Law Review Group (LRG), Scrum Steering Group (SSG) and the Multi-Disciplinary Injury Prevention Group (MDIPG) over the past five months and is the third of a seven-phase process of law change.
In previous cycles, closed trials were operated by World Rugby at Cambridge and Stellenbosch but a desire to deliver extensive, meaningful, elite-level analysis and feedback, meant that unions were asked to nominate competitions for the trials. All trials will be filmed and independently analysed in preparation for World Rugby Council to consider which trials go forward for global trial in 2017.
Timeframe for law review cycle 2015-18: 1. Early 2015: Call for suggested amendments
2. Mid-2015: LRG reviews suggestions made by unions/regional associations
3. September 2015: Rugby Committee meets to discuss proposals
4. Early 2016: Initial trials are conducted in relevant competitions
5. Mid-2016: Initial trials are reviewed by LRG
6. October 2016: Initial trials are reviewed by Rugby Committee
7. November 2016: Global trials (if appropriate) are approved by World Rugby Council
8. January 2017: Any such global trials start in southern hemisphere and August 2017 in northern hemisphere
9. June 2018: Any global trials are reviewed by LRG
10. October 2018: Recommendations are made to Rugby Committee
11. November 2018: Council confirms law amendments (if appropriate) at a special meeting and the law is changed accordingly