The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: New Laws in Rugby

ZIMBABWE rugby coaches, players and referees will this season have to adjust to the new laws when the new season kicks-off in a move that is meant to make the game faster and more exciting.

Local rugby will head for another dimension this season like the rest of the world when they implement a global trial of five aspects of law amendments that were implemented by other Unions last year.

The Southern Hemisphere teams will implement the trial laws at the beginning of this season but Unions in the Northern Hemisphere have been playing the game to these laws since last year.

The trial was approved by the International Rugby Board council at the beginning of last May and will be applicable to both international and domestic competition.

The laws are meant to make the game faster and reduce breakdown time as they will limit the time that the ball is available at the back of a ruck and also the positioning of taking a quick throw-in.

Some of the laws that have been changed state that the ball has to be used within five seconds of it being made available at the back of a ruck with a warning from the referee to "use it" otherwise the attacking team will lose it for a scrum.

The new laws also state that to avoid time wasting on the part of the attacking team, a conversion kick must be completed within one minute 30 seconds from the time that a try has been awarded.

Other trial laws that have come into force, according to the IRB, are that: "For a quick throw-in, the player may be anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch and the player's goal line.

"When the ball goes into touch from a knock-on, the non-offending team will be offered the choice of a lineout at the point the ball crossed the touch line; or a scrum at the place of the knock-on.

"The non-offending team may exercise this option by taking a quick throw-in.

"A team awarded a penalty or a free-kick at a line-out may choose a further line-out, they throw in. This is in addition to the scrum option," read the regulations from the IRB.

In the build-up to the new amendments, member Unions were asked to hand in submissions and recommendations and unlike previous amendment processes, the process has been steered by an independent laws representative group, comprising technical representatives from each of the 10 Tier 1 Unions.

In addition to the global trials, the IRB council approved three specific additional trials in regards to the television match official have also been added, extending the powers of the picture box officials.

Applicable to both international and domestic competition from the beginning of this season, the extended protocol will enable the referee to consult with the TMO to review up to two phases on rucks or mauls before the ball is grounded in the act of scoring. The referee may also call on the TMO to advise on incidents of possible foul play.

"A trial to extend the jurisdiction of the television match official to incidents within the field of play that have led to the scoring of a try and foul play in the field of play to take place at an appropriate elite competition in order that a protocol can be developed.

"The trial will permit international teams to nominate up to eight replacements in the match day squad for Test matches. In line with current practice at domestic elite rugby level, the additional player must be a qualified front row player.

"An amendment to Law 3.4 (Sevens Variation) to enable Sevens teams to nominate up to five replacements or substitutes. Under this revision, a team may substitute or replace up to five players during a match.

"Approval has been granted on player welfare grounds to recognise the additional demands on players and squads owing to the expansion of the HSBC Sevens World Series where there are three blocks of three events on consecutive weekends," said the IRB.

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