The amendments, which have been tried in specific international competitions this year, relate to the scrum and tackle/ruck and are aimed at making the game simpler to play and referee, as well as further protecting player welfare.
The six amendments will now join the scheduled global law trial programme, completing a total package of 11 aspects of law, and will debut in full from 1st August, 2017 in the northern hemisphere.
The six law changes are:
1. Throwing the ball into the scrum
No signal from referee. Scrum-halves must throw the ball in straight but they are 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.
Reason: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team throwing in (non-offending team).
2. Handling in the scrum – exception
The No.8 shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows.
Reason: To promote continuity.
3. 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.
Reason: To promote a fair contest for possession.
4. 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’.
Reason: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.
A ruck begins 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.
Reason: To make the ruck simpler for players and referees.
6. Law 16.4: Other ruck offences
A player must not kick the ball out of a ruck. The player can only hook it in a backwards motion.
Reason: To promote player welfare and to make it consistent with scrum law.
The law changes have been met with a generally positive response during the matches they were trialled in this year. More ball was coming into play at scrum-time with fewer penalties and fewer collapses, and the ball was put in without delay.
Feedback suggests that the tackle area was easier to referee with more clearly defined offside lines and tacklers not interfering with the quality of the ball with more players on their feet allowing counter rucking.
Updated 18:09 - 3 Sep 2017 by Jon Edwards