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New 50:22 kicking rule among World Rugby's latest law proposals

Reducing the number of permitted substitutions will also be discussed by the governing body’s review group in London this week.

WORLD RUGBY WILL take the first steps towards introducing player welfare-based law amendments this week as an expert review group convenes to discuss proposals for the next World Cup cycle.

On the back of a player welfare and laws symposium held in France last March, six potential law changes have been put forward for discussion at a meeting of the Law Review Group, which includes law experts, players, coaches, referees and elite competition representatives.

Johnny Sexton A new kicking law could be introduced in the next World Cup cycle. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

They will meet in London on Thursday and Friday, and among the topics on the agenda will be the introduction of a potentially revolutionary 50:22 kicking law which would be part of an overall bid to increase player safety.

Under the new 50:22 law, a kick from within your own half [your own 50-metre area] that bounces in the field of play before crossing the touchline in the opposition 22 would result in the kicking team getting the throw into the lineout.

In theory, this would encourage defending teams to drop more players into the backfield, thereby reducing the number of players in the defensive frontline while also creating more space around the pitch.  

Also among the proposals is the idea of reducing the number of permitted substitutions for each team, reducing the tackle height and giving the officials the ability to review a yellow card when a player is in the sin bin for dangerous foul play.

The intention would be to ensure a greater number of correct red cards for foul play and fewer incidences of teams losing the in-game benefit they may be missing out on when referees erroneously show yellow cards to the opposition instead of reds.  

  • 50:22 kick proposal: creating space by encouraging players to drop back from the defensive line
  • Reduction in the number of permitted substitutions
  • Off feet at the ruck/players must leave the ball: creating greater contest at the ruck to speed up ball availability
  • Delaying the movement of the ruck defensive line: reduce defensive line speed
  • Reducing the tackle height
  • Ability to review a yellow card when a player is in the sin bin for dangerous foul play. 

Commenting on the proposals, World Rugby chairman, Bill Beaumont, said: “We are committed to ensuring that rugby is as simple and safe to play for all and the quadrennial law review process is the vehicle in which we review current law with a view to enhancing the experience for players and fans.

“This is the first time that we have kick-started the process with the sole purpose of injury-prevention and the Law Review Group will give detailed consideration and analysis of the Marcoussis recommendations and to determine practicality and likely impact and therefore which ideas, if any, would be suitable for trial recommendation after Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.” 

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Ryan Bailey

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