Starting in August, the ELVs (Experimental Law Variations) for Rugby Union will be given a global trial. Some of them we have seen already in the Super 14, and most of the more controversial ones were slapped down. A total of 13 of the proposed 23 are to be trialled, which will more than likely result in their adoption thereafter. Here they are in all their glory:
ELVs to be trialled worldwide
- Assistant Referees can assist referees in any manner required when appointed by a match organiser. Not sure if this refers to touch judges. Does this mean the time keeper can point out spear tackles?
Posts and flags around the field
- The corner posts are no longer considered to be in touch in-goal except when a ball is grounded against the post. This may make Shane Williams and Mark Cueto very happy.
Lineout and throw
- If a team puts the ball back into their own 22 and the ball is subsequently kicked directly into touch there is no gain of ground. This will hopefully encourage counter-attacking and discourage aerial ping-pong. Expect a few wingers to forget about this one and put their fullback under undue pressure.
- A quick throw may be thrown in straight or towards the throwing team’s own goal line. They are rarely straight anyway. Again this should encourage counter-attacking.
- There is no restriction on the number of players who can participate in the lineout from either side (minimum of two). Allows you to pile on the pressure to the opponents throw on a tight 5 metre lineout to try and steal attacking ball. Just don’t then maul it (see below). Might bring some interesting tactical choices to be exploited – who do you leave out, will it leave a gap etc?
- The receiver in a lineout must stand 2 metres back from the lineout. Meh.
- The player who is in opposition to the player throwing in the ball may stand in the area between the 5 metre line and touch line but must be 2 metres away from the lineout. Might give speedy hookers a chance to rampage down the touchline.
- Lineout players may pre-grip a jumper before the ball is thrown in. Will this really give anyone an advantage? May lead to an outbreak of bluffing by means of pre-emptive shirt grabbing.
- The lifting of lineout jumpers is permitted. Wait, what? Isn’t this permitted already? I guess this must be an ELV that is already in trial, as they do it every week. Checking the rule book (as of 2007) turns out no, they are just allowed to support players that have already jumped 8ft in the air.
- Players are able to defend a maul by pulling it down. Endless up the jumper rugby should become a thing of the past. Opponents of this law claim it is dangerous, and gives advantage to weaker packs. Should suit Scotland, then. No, wait, we have a bunch of brutes. I am outraged, outraged I say.
- Remove reference in Law to heads and shoulders not to be lower than hips. Knees and toes, knees and toes. Sorry, I fell asleep there.
- Introduction of an offside line five metres behind the hindmost feet of the scrum. Presumably this is to give players at 10 and 12 more time to fire up their backline with exciting attacking moves, or to ease the likelihood of a Dan Parks chargedown. Master of the blitz defence Shaun Edwards will no doubt find a way around it.
- Scrum half offside lines (must be in close proximity to the scrum as present Law or must retreat five metres). Not sure what this will change.
They left out making almost everything penalty-wise a free kick – got to give the forwards a chance for a breather – and allowing handling in the ruck, which were two of the more controversial proposals. We will see the free-kick thing trialled in the Northern Hemisphere at some point though.
Disappointed to see that they made not putting the ball into the scrum straight legal. Oh, no, wait…they didn’t.