World Rugby announce three new major law changes


The largest reimagination of rugby’s entertainment value continues to progress with the World Rugby Council approving a package of law amendments.

Three new law amendments relating to offside from kicks in open play, the options available from a free-kick, and the removal of the practice of ‘crocodile rolling’ a player away from the tackle/ruck area, are all set to come into effect.

With a focus on both “spectacle and safety” and all geared towards the promotion of quick attacking ball, the three law amendments will be operational across the game for competitions beginning after 1 July 2024.

Onside from kicks in open play: In a rewrite of Law 10.7 relating to players being put onside from kicks in open play, it will no longer be possible for a player to be put onside when an opposition player catches the ball and runs five metres, or passes the ball. Laws 10.1 and 10.4 will make clear that offside players must make an attempt to retreat, creating space for the opposition team to play. This should reduce the amount of kick tennis in the game.

Free-kicks: Under Law 20.3, it will no longer be possible to choose a scrum from a free-kick. Free-kicks must either be tapped or kicked to encourage more ball in flow.

Banning the ‘crocodile roll’: The action of rolling/twisting/pulling of a player on their feet in the tackle area (the ‘crocodile roll’) will be outlawed, sanctioned by a penalty.

Meanwhile, World Rugby has announced further details of a suite of six closed law trials that will operate across World Rugby-run competitions from 1 July, 2024, including the World Rugby U20 Championship, U20 Trophy and Pacific Nations Cup.

Unions and competition owners may implement within their own competitions. as a closed trial A full review of effectiveness of the trials will be presented to the Executive Board in November to inform decisions regarding wider implementation.

  • Revised on- and off-field sanctions process increasing simplicity, consistency and fan understanding. This features the combination of strong automatic off-field red card sanctions and the ability to replace a red-carded player after 20 minutes.
  • Introduction of the 30-second shot clock for scrum and lineout setting and a maximum of 60 seconds for conversions [a reduction of 30 seconds] aligning with the time permitted for penalty kicks at goal.
  • Protection of the nine at the base of the scrum, ruck and at the maul following successful trials in Major League Rugby in the USA and in elite and community competitions in New Zealand. The nine will not be able to be played while the ball is still near a tackle, ruck or maul, and the offside line at the scrum for the non-putting in scrum-half will be the middle of the tunnel.
  • Ability to mark the ball inside the 22m line from a restart, promoting attacking options.
  • The ball must be played after the maul has been stopped once, not twice.
  • Play on at a lineout if ball not thrown straight but only if lineout is uncontested, aiding the flow of the game.

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