NRC slated as testing ground for World Rugby law changes

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The NRC could be the testing ground for two new laws after two days of World Rugby meetings in London this week.

World Rugby's Law Review Group met in London this week to review a number of potential law changes and recommend competitions for trial.

Australia's domestic competition will be used to trial two new laws, including an infringement limit.

In a similar vein to basketball's foul rules, once a team reaches a yet to be determined number of infringements, the last player to infringe will be automatically yellow-carded.

Currently, players are yellow-carded for repeated team infringements but there is no consistent benchmark of when that limit is.

The NRC could also see the trial of goal line drop outs for defending teams when an attacking player is held up over the line.

High tackle laws are still a major discussion point and a proposal to change tackle heights to waist level could also be given "closed" trials.

The RFU will be trialing a lower tackle height. Photo: Getty ImagesThe World Rugby U20s Championship has been used to test high tackle law changes in recent years and with a swathe of cards handed out this season, the practicalities of these changes were hotly debated.

Other laws recommended for trial include a 50:22 kicking law, similar to rugby league's 40:20 and the ability to review a yellow card while a player is in the sin bin, potentially upgrading the sanction to a red card if necessary.

LRG chairman James Jeffrey said the meeting was an important one in the development of laws heading towards the 2023 World Cup .

"This meeting is another important step on the road to further law improvement within the next four-year Rugby World Cup cycle," he said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that the sport is committed in its collaborative effort to reduce injuries, particularly head injuries, and the outcomes from this productive meeting certainly underscored that approach.

“The level of expertise and engagement in the meeting was impressive.

"The members of the LRG clearly want what’s best for the game and are determined to make the sport as safe, simple and enjoyable to play as it can be at all levels. I look forward to considering the LRG recommendations with my colleagues from the Rugby Committee next month.”


Law: 50:22 kick proposal. If the team in possession kicks the ball from inside their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents’ 22 or from inside their own 22 into their opponents’ half, they will throw in to the resultant lineout.

Recommendation: To approve for closed trials.

Law: Reduction in the number of permitted substitutions.

Recommendation: For World Rugby to sponsor more research to determine if there is a player welfare benefit.

Law: Reducing the tackle height to the waist.

Recommendation: To approve for closed trials.

Law: Ability to review a yellow card when a player is in the sin-bin for dangerous foul play. To ensure players who are guilty of serious foul play do not escape with a yellow card when they deserved red.

Recommendation: To approve for closed trials.

Law: The introduction of an infringement (penalty and free-kick) limit for teams. Once a team has reached the limit, a mandatory yellow card is given to the last offending player as a team sanction

Recommendation: To approve for closed trials at NRC in Australia.

Law: The awarding of a goal line drop-out to the defending team when an attacking player, who brings the ball into in-goal, is held up.

Recommendation: To approve for closed trials at NRC in Australia.

Law: One additional replacement per team be allowed during extra-time in a sevens match.

Recommendation: To approve for closed trial at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

Law: The High Tackle Technique warning has been successfully trialled at the World Rugby U20 Championship for the last two years.

Recommendation: To approve further closed trials.

Law: A number of potential changes to tackle law were discussed by the group, with a particular reference to the community level in France.

Recommendation: Approve for closed trials in designated FFR competitions.


Law: Off feet at the ruck – players must move away from the ball without delay.

Recommendation: Specialist working group should be formed to assess all issues regarding the ruck/ breakdown.

Law: Delaying the movement of the defensive line at the ruck until the ball has reached the first attacking player or until the receiver opts not to pass.

Recommendation: Not to approve for trial.