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World Rugby has tidied up the 'tackle-only' law that caused England so much trouble against Italy

In addition, players will no longer be able to kick the ball out of rucks and jackaling players must work from their own gate.

WORLD RUGBY HAS today announced six Law amendments that will be added to their global trials, including Law 16, which came under so much scrutiny during this year’s Six Nations.

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In their February trip to face England in Twickenham, Italy got around – in a quite literal sense – the offside laws by employing a tactic they dubbed ‘The Fox’ which saw them actively keeping players away from post-tackle situations so that no legal ruck, and therefore no offside line, had formed as the law required a player from each team to engage after the tackle.

The move, which had previously been attempted by an array of teams in the southern hemisphere, will be outlawed from 1 August in the northern hemisphere as the governing body’s amendments are put into play. The commencement date for southern hemisphere competitions will be 1 January.

While the November Tests will be played with the amendments, the Women’s Rugby World Cup next month will not be subject to the changes and will be played under the same Laws as all warm-up games this summer.

The new Law 16 (ruck) now reads:

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.”

Romain Poite speaks to Dylan Hartley and Danny Care 'I'm the referee, not your coach'. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

World Rugby says all amendments have been made in an effort to make the game easier for players and officials. A second amendment has been made with this in mind around the tackle area. The existing Law 15.4 (c) reads:

The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then may play the ball from any direction.

From 1 August however, players looking to jackal must do so from their ‘gate’ as the new Law reads:

The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their own side of the tackle “gate”.

In addition, Law 16.4 now includes kicking the ball out of a ruck as an offence. The practice has been shown to be dangerous given players’ heads are never far away.

The remaining three amendments to the Laws relate to the scrum. Law 20.8 (b) now requires a strike attempt by the team who had the put-in, with a free-kick to be awarded if they fail to attempt to hook the ball back.

Law 20.9 (b) will see number eights permitted to pick the ball from the feet of their second rows, while Law 20.5 and 20.6 (d) relate to how a scrum-half puts the ball into the set-piece, the number nine will no longer need a referee’s signal to put in and will be allowed stand with a shoulder in line with the middle of the scrum before sending the ball in straight.

Here are the six amendments made to the global trial programme and the rationale as described by World Rugby

 

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).

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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

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Sean Farrell

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