The World Rugby Council has unanimously decided to adopt into law the complete package of 12 law amendments that are currently under global trial.
Approval follows a recommendation by the Rugby Committee after comprehensive evaluation of trial performance from playing, coaching, match officiating, fan and player welfare perspectives by the specialist 15s Laws Review Group (LRG).
With the global law trials having operated since August in the northern hemisphere and January in the southern hemisphere, there is no material on-field impact and amendments will be codified within law immediate effect.
In short, the law amendments that have been adopted into law are:
- Uncontested scrums must have eight players (Law 3.15)
- Permit kick to touch after time has elapsed (Law 5.7c)
- Where multiple penalty infringements the non-offending team can choose the most advantageous (Law 7.2d)
- Penalty try has no conversion (Law 8.1c, 8.3 and 8.7)
- Touch, 22m and in goal simplification (Law 18)
- Scrum – no signal from ref (Law 19.22)
- Scrum – alignment of scrum-half (Law 19.15f)
- Scrum – compulsory strike (LRG insist that for player welfare purposes this is a compulsory strike by the hooker (Law 19.22)
- Scrum – Allow number eight to pick up from second row of scrum (Law 19.36c)
- Tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their side of the tackle gate (Law 14.6)
- Change in pre-ruck offside line formation – at least one player on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (Law 14.11)
- No kicking out of ruck (Law 15.16c)
- World Rugby undertakes a four-year law review process with the principle objective of simplification for players, coaches, referees and fans, while also promoting player welfare initiatives.
The current process began in 2015 with more than 140 union submissions for potential amendments in line with this criteria. Implementation more than a year out from Rugby World Cup 2019 means that players will have been operating under the laws for more than two years prior to the tournament.
For the first time the global trial evaluation included feedback from more than 10,000 players, coaches, match officials and fans via a social media survey. The feedback regarding the on-field and off-field experience of the 12 law amendments was overwhelmingly positive.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby continually reviews the laws to ensure that the game is as enjoyable, simple and safe as possible at all levels. I would like to thank our unions for their full support throughout the process, the experts who evaluated the global trial data and the wider global community for their feedback via our social media survey. These views are important and the response was overwhelmingly positive.”
Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey added: “These law amendments are designed to improve the experience of those playing, officiating and watching the game at all levels and the feedback from the global rugby community confirms that the trials have been positive and effective. Adoption into law is the culmination of a four-year process that began with 140 union submissions and has involved superb input from players, coaches, referees, medics and administrators. It has been truly collaborative, and we look forward to seeing these amendments embedded within law as we head towards Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.”