Global Law Trials: What You Need To Know

With the summer’s Test rugby just down south just starting up this might be a good time to remind ourselves of the global law trials that were announced in November 2016. The trial began on January 1, 2017 in the southern hemisphere and is scheduled to be introduced on August 1, 2017 in the north and will last for an initial period of one year.

Crucially for those in the north, the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour and June summer tour internationals are being played under the global law trials, as is the World Rugby U20s Championship. Most of the changes are relatively minor but there are some fairly fundamental alterations as to when the ball is considered to be in touch.

Law 3 Number of Players – The Team

3.6 (Uncontested Scrums) additional clause (h):
Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.
Reasoning: To discourage teams from going to uncontested scrums.
Practical application: Space out in the backs when a team runs out of front row players.

Law 5 Time

Added to 5.7(e):
If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.
Reasoning: To discourage teams from infringing in the dying moments of the game.
Practical application: John Muldoon will now be correct when he says Connacht can take a lineout when the 80 minutes are up

Law 8 Advantage

Added to 8.1(a):
When there are multiple penalty infringements by the same team, the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous of the penalty marks.
Reasoning: To discourage repeat offending when advantage is already being played and to reward teams against whom repeat offending has taken place.
Practical application: Choose the penalty mark in the middle if kicking for points; out wide if going for the corner.

Law 9 Method of Scoring

Additional clause under 9.A.1 (points values):
Penalty Try. If a player would probably have scored a try but for foul play by an opponent, a penalty try is awarded. No conversion is attempted.
Value: 7 points
Reasoning: To discourage teams from illegally preventing a probable try from being scored while also saving time on the clock by negating the need for a conversion, especially in wider channels of the pitch.
Practical application: Time saved. (And no easy padding of kicking stats…)

Law 19 Touch and Lineout

Added to definitions on page 117:
A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.
Reasoning: This brings into law something that is already applied in practice. It means that a player “juggling” the ball does not have to be in contact with it at the exact moment of touching the touchline or the ground beyond it for the ball to be deemed to be in touch. This makes it easier for the match officials to adjudicate.
Practical application: Brought into line with the treatment of a player juggling the ball as in possession so therefore fair game to be tackled.

Amended eighth definition on page 117:
If a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area (or if that player catches the ball and throws it back into the playing area) before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches the plane of touch.
Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.
Practical application: The ball has to cross the plane of touch and contact the ground (or someone in contact with the ground) to be considered out. The exaggerated Hollywood style jump and flick back into play will no longer be a waste of time.

Added to definitions on page 117:
If the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues.
Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.
Practical application: Taking to the air and offloading Leone Nakarawa style will keep the play alive.

Added to sixth definition on page 117:
In this case, if the ball has passed the plane of touch when it is caught, then the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch. If the ball has not passed the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.
Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.
Practical application: No more smart plays, sticking one foot in touch and catching the ball in the field of play. Do that now and the opposition will have the throw in.

When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out how many decimal places to put after Jonny Gray's 99% tackle completion rate.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

5 comments on “Global Law Trials: What You Need To Know

  1. Neil on

    most of these i like , not so much the instant 7 points , i think the kick should still be taken.

    • Andy N on

      Maybe they assume nobody would miss from right in front of the posts….clearly haven’t watched us.

  2. Alanyst on

    I like the instant 7 and the choose your spot….A typical case is team A is attacking at 4-10 down (with a penalty advantage) with a few minutes left….so they need a try. Watch team B guddle about every which way knowing that a penalty has no further consequence, and daring the ref to give a yellow.

    For me this sort of stuff often destroys what should be the climax of the game.

    I’d go further….3 consecutive penalties in your own 22 without clear possession is a penalty try.

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