World Rugby's Five-Phase Action Plan for Speed and Continuity


The move resulted from decisions made at the Shape of the Game Forum earlier this month, discussing ways to advance the rugby experience in the changing sports and entertainment environment.

A five-phase action plan has been adopted.

Starting from March 19, referees worldwide will be expected to strictly apply laws focused on speeding up play.

These are:

Law 15.17: Players will be expected to use the ball more quickly when the ball has been won at a ruck/breakdown. Referees will call 'use it' sooner and start the five-second count to move the ball.

Law 19.10: Hookers will maintain a full brake foot to aid scrum stability and safety during the engagement sequence. Should they adjust, it must maintain the act of the brake.

Law 6.29: Strict reinforcement of the 2022 trial law regarding water carriers entering the field.

Intended law amendments in the second phase will have to wait until the May 9 meeting of the World Rugby Council for consideration.

They are each aimed at enhancing game continuity.

Adjustments to Law 10 regarding players being put onside when there are kicks in open play are being trialled in Super Rugby Pacific this year to reduce 'kick tennis.'

Removing the scrum option from a free-kick at a scrum to reduce dead time.

+ They are outlawing the 'croc roll', reinforcing the focus on player welfare.

In the third phase, closed law trials are encouraged at the domestic and cross-border levels to enhance game continuity.

These will see:

+  Expansion of the shot clock for scrum and lineouts and reduced kicking time.

Ability to mark the ball inside the 22m line from a restart, promoting attacking options.

The ball must be played after the maul has been stopped once, not twice.

Protection of the halfback at the base of the scrum, ruck and maul. This has been successfully trialled in New Zealand competitions and Major League Rugby in the United States.

Play will carry on at lineouts where the throw-in is not straight and is uncontested.

In the fourth phase, specialist working groups will address specific areas in the game, including on- and off-field sanctions. This includes considering Super Rugby Pacific's red card, where a player is sent off but replaced by another after 20 minutes.

Also to be considered in a significant review is the safety in contesting the ball on the floor and the use of the jackal as opposed to an upright driving game.

Television match officials, replacements, the fan experience and tackle height, are other areas to be considered.

In the fifth phase, new Rugby Labs will be used to test aspects of law in controlled environments and evaluated by data and player feedback. Specific areas of attention will include the scrum engagement sequence and the tackle/ruck area.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said, "Change is in rugby's DNA. Two hundred years ago we were born from a desire to change, and we are harnessing that same spirit to excite the next generation of fans and players.

"We have moved quickly. It has taken a special unity and commitment from across the sport to be able to present a package of enhancements to the Council in May."  


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