New Rugby laws to come into effect August 1

Six new laws to make game safer and easier to referee

Donn O'Sullivan


Donn O'Sullivan


New Rugby laws to come into effect August 1

New laws will leave little time for coaches to prepare

The World Rugby Executive Committee has today approved the addition of six law amendments to the game which will come into effect as soon as August 1. 

The amendments, which relate to the scrum (Law 20) and tackle/ruck (Laws 15 and 16), are aimed at making the game simpler to play and referee as well as further promoting player welfare.

They have been approved following extensive game data analysis as well as player, coach, match official and union feedback from the tournaments in which these six aspects of law were trialled.

The six law 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 1 August, 2017 in the northern hemisphere and from 1 January, 2018 in the south.

The November 2017 tests will operate under the full global law trials, while Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 will operate under the package of five global law trials that has been operational in the southern hemisphere since January and was operational during the June test window – Confused yet? We are. 

Here are the six aspects of law approved to join the global trial programme are:

1. Law 20.5 and 20.6 (d) 

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 (non-offending team).

2. Law 20.9 (b) Handling in the scrum – exception

The number eight shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows. 

Rationale: To promote continuity.

3. Law 20.8 (b) 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.

Sanction: Free-kick

Rationale: 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”.

Rationale: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.

5. Law 16 Ruck

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.

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.

Sanction: Penalty

Rationale: To promote player welfare and to make it consistent with scrum law.