The World Rugby Executive Committee has announced six law amendments to the global law trials programme. These amendments have been tried in certain international competitions this year. The aim of these amendments is to make the game simpler to play and referee and also to protect the player welfare. The amendments relate to scrum (Law 20) and tackle/ruck (Laws 15 and 16).
The six amendments will commence from 1st August, 2017 and 1st January, 2018 in the northern and southern hemisphere respectively.
The said changes are as follows:
- Law 20.5 and 20.5(d)5: Here, scrumhalves will have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their side of the scrum, giving them more advantage, but they will still have to throw the ball straight. There will be no signal from the referee. This rule promotes fair contest of possession and stability of the scrum and also gives advantage to the throwing team.
- Law 20.9(b): The No. 8 will now be able to pick the ball up from the feet of the second rower in a bid to keep scrums moving more rapidly.
- Law 20: Front row player must hook the ball when the ball is fed. A front row player must use either foot to try and win possession of the ball. This rule promotes fair contest for possession. Penalty for not abiding by this rule is a free-kick.
- Law 15.4(c): The tackler must now get up and go to their side of the ‘gate’ before being able to play the ball. The rationale behind such a rule is to make the ruck/tackle simpler for the players and the referee and to make it consistent with the law.
- Law 16: A ruck begins when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball. Players on their feet can use their hands and pick up the ball, as long as that’s immediate. After the arrival of the opposition player, no hands can be used. It makes the ruck easier for the player and the referee.
- Law 16.4: Players cannot kick the ball through the ruck, but will have to hook it in backwards motion. It is to promote player welfare and to make it consistent with scrum law.