Rugby Union Laws To Undergo Overhaul

There’s little doubt Rugby Union is a fascinating game to follow especially if you understand the laws of the game.

It can take some time however, for students of the sport to become fully aware of all the individual rules. You may even argue things can get quite complicated reading through the various sections and given the high number of laws involved. It’s sometimes understandable their interpretation can get a little clouded at times.

A number of controversial refereeing decisions in the Test series between the All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions, prompted Steve Hansen to call for simpler laws and their correct interpretation. With this in mind, World Rugby has commissioned a technical group to overhaul its law book. In fact, this could result in the publication being reduced by 50 per cent.

Groundbreaking Changes Set To Win New Fans

The whole aim of this of course, is to make the game easier to understand, and naturally it’s fast becoming a huge talking point both within and outside of the game. New Zealand Rugby has played a large part in this process nominating high-performance referee manager, Rod Hill, to help oversee the project.

The scheme also includes two representatives from South Africa, one from England and three from World Rugby. Their first meeting was in Edinburgh in February 2016. Following this, the group paired off, taking seven laws between them, before reporting back and peer-reviewing at the second meeting in San Francisco last July.

A special conference call meeting was held last September to finalise things. The ‘Laws Simplification Project’ is set to be completed by late 2018. It’s been confirmed the revised law book will be based on school years eight and nine comprehension levels, and will be run through computer software to ensure it complies with those levels.

Rugby Union Laws Starting From Scratch

Before this innovative revision of the laws is signed off, World Rugby will send it to all the national unions for feedback.

Rod Hill explained: “This project was about ‘starting from scratch’, and making sure it reads well, and to reshape the law book to get that as an outcome. What we’re looking for is: Is the intent of the law is still correct? Are there any glaring errors? We’ve reduced the number of words in the law book by 50 per cent.”

It seems over time changes which have been made are now regarded as piecemeal. In this case there were obvious exceptions here and there. Now, many of the laws have been tidied up and simplified so players, coaches and fans can fully understand what’s going on at any given time.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, soon to take over at the Glasgow Warriors Club is the other New Zealander on the panel.

He said:  “You know what coaches are like too, we find ways around the law. So less laws, less chances to do that.”

In terms of examples of changes, one of the variations will see the tackler being able to play the ball from his side of the gate only, and a change to what constitutes a ruck.

World Rugby will trial the seven new laws introduced at the U20 Championship on a global scale for the forthcoming 2017-18 season. With the sport of Rugby Union getting coverage as never before, the governing body is aware the move could possibly bring a new generation of fans to the table.

Understanding everything as it happens on the field of play will increase their enjoyment as spectators. It’s reported however, England are believed to be the only union opposed to the implementation of these laws on a trial basis.

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