Patrick Lennon Associates 25 years

September 13, 2017An overview of Rugby’s current Global Law Trials

Ever since the first set of rules as to how rugby should be played were drawn up by the newly formed Rugby Football Union in 1871, there have been revisions to reflect the evolution of the game.

The core of “The Laws of the Game”, as they were grandly called, has stood the test of time, however, revisions have been constant as the game has sought to adapt to playing conditions and outside pressures over the past 146 years.

Nowadays, the ultimate responsibility for the Laws rests with World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board) and it has a committee that is responsible for recommending changes and their trial before they enshrined in the Laws.

This season World Rugby has added six amendments to its “Global Law Trials” (GLT) following positive trials in specific international competitions earlier this year. The amendments apply to all games in England with effect from 1st August 2017.

The following is a synopsis of the amendments.

1. Definitions – Possession
This happens when a player is carrying the ball (or attempting to bring it under control) or the team has the ball in its control, for example the ball in one half of a scrum or ruck is in that team’s possession.

2. Law 3.6 Number of Players – The Team
Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.

3. Law 5.7 (E) – Time
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. To end the half, the ball must be tapped before the kick to touch.

4. Law 8.1 (A) – Advantage
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.

5. Law 9.A.1 – Method of Scoring
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.

6. Law 15.4 (C)- Amended Tackle
The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their side of the tackle gate.

7. Law 16 – Amended Ruck Law
A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside line is created. A player on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives no hands can be used.

8. Law 16.4 – Other Ruck Offences
A player must not kick the ball out of a ruck. Sanction: Penalty kick.
The player can only hook the ball in a backwards motion.

9. Law 18 – Definition: Mark
To make a mark a player must have one or both feet on or behind that player’s 22 metre line and catch a ball that has reached the plane of the 22-metre line.

10. Law 19 – Definition: Touch
If a 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.
If the 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.

11. Law 19.1 (C) – No Gain in Ground
If a player, with one or both feet behind the 22-metre line, picks up the ball, which was outside the 22, or catches the ball in front of the 22-metre line and kicks it directly into touch from within the 22, then that player has taken the ball back inside the 22, so there is no gain in ground.

12. Law 20.5 – Throwing the Ball into the Scrum

No signal from the referee. The scrum must be stable and there must be no delay once the ball has been presented to the scrum.

13. Law 20.6 (D) – How the Scrum Half Throws in the Ball
The scrum half must throw the ball in straight, but is allowed to align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder width towards their side of the middle line.

14. Law 20 – Striking After the Throw-in
Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball. Sanction: Free-kick.

15. Law 20.9 (B) – Handling in the Scrum – Exception
Allow the number 8 to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows.

16. Law 22.9 (B) – Defending Player In-goal
If a player with one or both feet on or behind the goal line picks up the ball from within the field of play, or catches the ball in front of the goal line, that player has taken possession of the ball in the field of play.

17. Law 22.9 (D) – Defending Player in In-goal
If a player with one or both feet on or behind the dead ball line picks up or catches a ball that has not reached the dead ball line, or touch in-goal line, that player is deemed to have made the ball dead.

Video clips illustrating the amendments are available on the World Rugby website at – click on the Global Law Trials 2017 tab.