James Mortimer 10.Oct.2012Getty Images
In May the International Rugby Board and its Member Unions sanctioned a global trial of five aspects of Law amendments following an extensive process of consultation and evaluation.
The trial, approved by the IRB Council at its Annual Meeting in Dublin, commenced at the start Northern Hemisphere season (August 2012) and officially in the South on January 2013 - although the ITM Cup introduced the new laws earlier.
Key changes have seen limiting the time that the ball is available at the back of a ruck (5 seconds max) and the positioning of taking a quick throw-in.
In addition to the suite of seven Laws approved for global trial, three additional trials will operate during 2012 - a trial extension of the jurisdiction of the Television Match Official will be introduced later this year, while the number of nominated replacements in Test Rugby will be increased to eight for a trial in the November window.
There was thought that the new trials could be applied to the Bledisloe Cup match, but this would only occur with the approval of both unions.
With a high injury toll, the Australian Rugby Union said they want to complete their domestic season under current rules.
Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell said last month that perhaps the All Blacks would have too much of an advantage considering the laws were currently under operation in the ITM Cup.
It will be interesting to see how the All Blacks do approach the new laws in their opening test of European tour against Scotland, considering that the 2012 Edition of the World Champions favour a fast tempo game played at lightening pace.
The five Law amendments under trial are:
1. Law 16.7 (Ruck): 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”. Sanction – Scrum.
2. 19.2 (b) (Quick Throw-In) 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.
3. 19.4 (who throws in) 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.
4. 21.4 Penalty and free kick options and requirements: Lineout alternative. A team awarded a penalty or a free kick at a lineout may choose a further lineout, they throw in. This is in addition to the scrum option.
5. A conversion kick must be completed within one minute 30 seconds from the time that a try has been awarded.
In addition to the global trials, the IRB Council approved three specific additional trials:
1. A trial to extend the jurisdiction of the TMO 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 for the November 2012 Tests.
2. A trial has been sanctioned for the November 2012 Test window permitting 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.
3. An amendment to Law 3.4 (Sevens Variation) to enable Sevens teams to nominate up to five replacements/substitutes. Under the revision, which will operate from June 1 2012, 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.
Council also approved the referral by the Laws Representative Group of one potential Law amendment that was successfully trialled at Cambridge and Stellenbosch for further consideration by the specialist Scrum Steering Group (overseeing scrum force project) to be considered alongside the ongoing review of the scrum.
The amendment that will be considered by the Group relates to the engagement sequence and will see the referee call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch then touch and using outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then set the scrum.