New rugby rules …

At last the IRB have sanctioned a global trial of five aspects of Law amendments …

The trial will commence at the start of the next season in each hemisphere (August 2012 in the north and January 2013 in the south) and will be applicable to both international and domestic competition.

The five Law amendments to be trialled globally are:

1. Law 16.7 (Ruck): The ball has to be used within five seconds of it being made available at the back of a ruck following a warning from the referee to “use it”. Sanction – Scrum.

2. 19.2 (b) (Quick Throw-In) For a quick throw in, the player may be anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch and the player’s goal line.

3. 19.4 (who throws in) When the ball goes into touch from a knock-on, the non-offending team will be offered the choice of a lineout at the point the ball crossed the touch line; or a scrum at the place of the knock-on. The non-offending team may exercise this option by taking a quick throw-in.

4. 21.4 Penalty and free kick options and requirements: Lineout alternative. A team awarded a penalty or a free kick at a lineout may choose a further lineout, they throw in. This is in addition to the scrum option.

5. A conversion kick must be completed within one minute 30 seconds from the time that a try has been awarded.

In addition, the IRB approved three specific additional trials:

1. To extend the jurisdiction of the TMO to incidents within the field of play that have led to the scoring of a try and foul play in the field of play.

2. International teams to nominate up to eight replacements in the match day squad for Test matches, the additional player must be a qualified front row player.

3. Sevens teams to nominate up to five replacements/substitutes.

And perhaps most importantly …

The IRB also approved further consideration for the ongoing review of the scrum. The amendment relates to the engagement sequence and will see the referee call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch then touch and using outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then set the scrum.

“The Laws Representative Group were encouraged by the outcomes of the initial trials in Cambridge and Stellenbosch. The next step is a global trial with full buy-in and which has been approved by Council on the basis that the amendments can have a positive effect on the playing of the Game” said Bernard Lapasset …



  1. Seems sensible enough! Especially the TMO rule. If the technology is available, why not use it? Commentators have been calling for this for years… Hopefully this sorts out the scrum fiasco as well. The ruck rule will prevent teams killing the game in the last few minutes. That was one of the most frustrating things to watch.

  2. Hopefully with the TMO being given a bit wider scope it will see the white card being red carded. No need for it anymore.

  3. This has always been one of the big problems with rugby over decades – a rule to counter a rule to counter a rule so on and so forth. However, there could be some real positives out of this. TMO given wider scope – referees are going to have to be very clear in what they are wanting from the TMO. I just hope this includes scrum put ins that are under the locks feet and kick offs that are a meter over the line. The 5 secs rule could be interesting in its implementation – who counts the 5 secs. Conversion time – there is already a time limit in place, but varies from ref to ref – so this one will be interesting. I do like the extra replacement being a prop. Makes absolute sense. Nothing worse than uncontested scrums. Anyway, it will be of much interest to see how they pan out.

  4. Now, who is in charge of timing the 1min 30 secs for the conversion and what is the penalty for exceeding the time? Or does the kick attempt “lapse” if it isn’t taken within the specified time?

    I presume no such time limit applies to penalties – which seems a bit daft as these can also be used as time wasters in tight situations to run the clock down.

    1. There is already a time limit of one minute for penalty kicks and conversions, but timed from the signal of intention to kick or the arrival of a tee/sand. This new law of a minute and a half from try scoring really just closes a loophole. The sanction for exceeding time is that you don’t score with the kick. Restart with a kickoff as per usual for a conversion. Restart with a scrum to the other side if a penalty is timed out.

      A minute is still too long imo. I can’t recall seeing anybody timed out yet, and some of them take far too much time.

      As in everything, (yes, even TMO decisions and full time, and technically also touch decisions), the ref is solely responsible, but may delegate the job to another official. Play to the whistle, not to the flag. They already have stopwatches for sinbins, blood bins and playing time. The same laws apply to all levels of rugby, so the mechanism of applying them will vary.

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