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New Rugby Law Changes and Clarifications to take effect at Start of 2016 season

New Rugby Law Changes and Clarifications to take effect at Start of 2016 season. Keith Wilkinson

This is a general overview of Law changes and clarifications taken from a recent referees’ meeting. As the 2016 Rugby season comes closer, please consider the effects of changes taking effect in Rugby Ontario as of 1st May. Law changes are tried and trialed every four years, with a moratorium in the World Cup year (except for safety.)

Law 3 – Number of Players
Law 3.5 addresses the number of players who are capable of playing in the front row, and how their number affects the total number of players a team may use. It is not for a referee to determine if a player is suitably trained as a front row player, but the team’s responsibility. For a squad size of 23, a team must have 6 min Front Row players, including a LH Prop, Tight H Prop and a hooker. Prior to the match, these six players and their specialized positions will be marked on the match sheet.

If a front row player is injured as a result of foul play, the player can be replaced by a previously substituted player.

Law 8.3 (d) and (f) When Advantage Law is not Applied.
The section listing situations where advantage cannot be played has seen collapsed scrums removed. The referee now has the option of playing advantage if he feels players are not endangered. The referee DOES NOT have the option of playing advantage if the front row is lifted.
A player must not be tackled in the air. The first to jump has the advantage

Law 9.B (e) Sevens Variation
The kicker must take the kick within 30 seconds of a try being scored (used to be 40 mins)

Law 10.2 Unfair Play – No diving
In a move that formalises resistance to a practice that has been creeping into the game in recent years, any player who dives or feigns injury in an effort to influence the match officials will be liable for sanction (PK). Previously, such offences were covered under the laws covering general acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

Dangerous Play
Any grabbing of a player’s neck or head is a yellow or red card offence. The maneuver “Croc rolling” in attacking possession, is dangerous.
Swinging a player by the shirt is dangerous play. Any shoulder charge without attempting to wrap the arms around a player is dangerous play

Law 4 – Player Clothing (Clarification)
Player jerseys must have sleeves that extend at least half way from the point of the shoulder to the elbow.

Law 5 – Time (Clarification)
In the last year there were a couple of Clarifications regarding what happens when there is a score very close to the end of the half or the game. Those have been incorporated into Law [5.7 (g) and (h)]. Essentially, if the conversion kick is taken (or the try is awarded and the team chooses not to take the conversion per 9.B.2) before time expires, the next restart will happen even if time expires between the kick and when the players are prepared to restart. And, if a restart is taken under these circumstances with time expired, and the kick is taken incorrectly (e.g. not ten, etc.), the referee will offer the options in Law 13.

Law 17 – Maul
There is no law change, but rather some guidance on application. The ball in a maul may be moved backwards hand-to-hand. A player is not allowed to move/slide to the back of the maul when that player is in possession of the ball. Players joining the maul must do so from behind the rear foot. If the maul shears off from a larger maul, ball carrier must be in front.

Law 20 – Scrum
There is now a specific time about “no delay in forming a scrum.” FK after thirty seconds.

Front rows coming together has been re-written to require the players be “ear to ear”. 20.1 (f)

Ending the scrum now includes a “use it” provision once the ball is at the last player’s feet and is not moving forward. 20.10 (d)

A scrum that has wheeled past 180 is no longer a turnover. The original team throws in again.

The scrum half of the team not in possession must now stay out of the pocket. The scrum half must not touch opposite players and if either foot is in front of the ball, they are offside.

Penalty and Free Kicks

All penalty and free kicks that are awarded close to the goal line are to be given five meters out, regardless of the team (no longer just the attacking team’s penalties). 21.2 (a)

Definition of a Forward pass:
If the ball travels forward from the ball carrier as the result of a rip or deliberate ball-strike by an opponent then that should not be considered a knock-on and play should continue. 

These observations are taken from my own notes. Please research the letter of these new Laws and their clarifications, in case I have made errors.


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