The amendments, which have been tried in specific international competitions this year, relate to the scrum (Law 20) and tackle/ruck (Laws 15 and 16), and are aimed at making the game simpler to play and referee, as well as further protecting player welfare.
The six law amendments will debut in full from 1 August 2017 in the northern hemisphere, and from 1 January 2018 in the southern hemisphere, are as follows...
Throwing the ball into the scrum
Law 20.5 & 20.5 (d) 5
No signal from referee. The scrum-half must throw the ball in straight, but is allowed to align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.
Rationale: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team throwing in.
Handling in the scrum – exception
Law 20.9 (b)
The number eight shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows.
Rationale: To promote continuity.
Striking after the throw-in
Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front-row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball.
Rationale: To promote a fair contest for possession.
Law 15.4 (c)
The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their own side of the tackle “gate”.
Rationale: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.
A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.
Rationale: To make the ruck simpler for players and referees.
Other ruck offences
Updated 21:35 - 28 Sep 2017 by Dave Dennis
A player must not kick the ball out of a ruck. The player can only hook it in a backwards motion.
Rationale: To promote player welfare and to make it consistent with scrum law.