New Rugby laws mulled to reduce injuries

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RNZ Auckland, July 14, 2021

(Photo by Photosport)

 

World Rugby will trial new laws in all international competitions that start after the end of the month, including the Rugby Championship, as the organisation attempts to reduce injuries in the sport.

Two of the laws have already been trialled in Super Rugby this year, the goal-line dropout, which has been seen in Super Rugby Aotearoa and trans-Tasman – and the 50m line to 22m line kick, which was used in Super Rugby AU.

World Rugby believes that both have the potential to increase space and decrease defensive line speed.

Three trials focus specifically on reducing injury risk at the breakdown.

Three important steps

The first is the introduction of sanctioning clear-outs that target the lower limbs. The second will outlaw the practice of multi-player (three or more) pre-bound pods. The third area will tighten the definition of what is permissible in the practice of one-player latching.

After a global trial period of one year, laws that are deemed successful in meeting the objective of increasing safety while enhancing the spectacle will be tabled for World Rugby to determine whether they are adopted into law at its May 2022 meeting, a full year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

A breakdown of the new laws:

50:22: This law trial is intended to create space via a tactical choice for players to drop out of the defensive line to prevent their opponents from kicking for touch, reducing the impact of defensive line speed – operational in Super Rugby AU

Goal-line drop-out: This law trial is intended to reduce the number of scrums, reward good defence, encourage counter-attacking and increase the rate of the ball in play – operational in Super Rugby AU, Super Rugby Aotearoa, Super Rugby Trans-Tasman and the Rainbow Cup

Welfare-focused breakdown law amendments approved for global trial

Pre-bound pods of players: Outlawing the practice of pods of three or more players being pre-bound before receiving the ball – the sanction will be a penalty kick

Sanctioning the lower limb clear-out: Penalising players who target/drop their weight onto the lower limbs of a tackler – the sanction will be a penalty kick

Tightening law relating to latching: One-player latch to be permitted, but this player has the same responsibilities as a first arriving player (i.e. must stay on feet, enter through the gate and not fall to the floor) – the sanction will be a penalty kick.

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