Monday, April 02, 2007

IRB looking for changes to tackle & scrum laws

October 13, 2006

"At present all of these are speculations, not laws."

Via Rugby Planet:

IRB looks to safety in scrum law

Other changes possible

The International Rugby Board (IRB), whose primary function is to formulate the Laws of the Game, is concerned about player welfare and is looking at possible law changes in the interests of player welfare.

Greg Thomas, an IRB spokesman, said that the IRB was looking into the issue of player safety closely and had a project in which a monitoring group was looking at present laws in its concern for injury prevention.

These were especially the tackle and scrum laws.

The monitoring group would make recommendations to the IRB's rugby committee which in turn would make recommendations to the IRB's council for consideration at its November meeting.

Experimental Law Variations have been tried and tested at Stellenbosch University which has over a thousand students involved in an ardent residents' league. The standard is high and consistent, making it an ideal rugby laboratory, often used in years gone by Danie Craven to test proposed law changes.

These Experimental Law Variations would go forward to the rugby committee in consultation with the IRB's medical advisory committee.

In the meantime suggestions to make the scrum less dangerous have been sent to all IRB members worldwide to get their feedback. Thomas said "It is a democratic process."

There are no definite changes and nothing can be expected before the November meeting and, after proposed changes have been worked into the Laws, definite changes, if any, may not be proclaimed before January 2007.

The scrum changes may well not be as drastic as some people think but may well concern the engagement procedure and may make the process of engaging similar to that of the Under-19 law variations, if not the same. That would be the only part of the Under-19 variation adopted and may not embrace other Under-19 variations concerning the scrum.

The change may well be to reduce the impact on engagement. At present this is regulated by law.

Law 20.1 (g) Front rows coming together. First, the referee marks with a foot the place where the scrum is to be formed. Before the two front rows come together they must be standing not more than an arm’s length apart. The ball is in the scrum-half’s hands, ready to be thrown in. The front rows must crouch so that when they meet, each player’s head and shoulders are no lower than the hips. The front rows must interlock so that no player’s head is next to the head of a team-mate.

(h) The front-rows crouch and pause, and then come together only when the referee calls ‘engage’. This call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.
Penalty Free Kick

(i) A crouched position is the extension of the normal stance by bending the knees sufficiently to move into the engagement without a charge.

(j) Charging. A front row must not form at a distance from its opponents and rush against them. This is dangerous play.

Penalty Penalty Kick

The change may well seek to change the subjective judgement of "an arm's length apart" by making it objective in accordance with the Under-19 variations.

The Under-19 variation states Front rows coming together. Each prop touches the opponent’s upper arm and then pauses before the front rows meet. The sequence should be crouch, touch, pause, engage.

The "touch" ensures that the "arm's length" is observed.

The Stellenbosch experiment would see the tackle and the ruck disappear from the game to be replaced by the breakdown with an off-side line stretching across the field and entry only through the "gate". Use of hands would be permitted and going to ground would be permitted, provided that it is not dangerous and subject to Law 10 on foul play.

Teams would be allowed to go to ground to get the ball and allowed to prevent the ball-carrier from releasing the ball. If the ball-carrier's side are unable to get the ball back, a free kick would be awarded against them.

The only penalties would be for foul play and being off-side. All other present penalties would lapse into free kicks.

Such massive changes have the potential to produce a high-speed game and a quiet referee, as he would no longer have to bark orders at the players involved in the tackle/ruck.

"Truck-'n-trailer" would be allowed at the maul but the defending team would be allowed to bring the maul down. This will require cleverness on the part of the team trying to maul if they wanted to keep it rolling on.

If you passed the ball back to a team-mate inside your 22, you would be allowed to kick it directly into touch only after a breakdown (tackle thing).

The law about being in touch would be simplified and the cornerpost would be moved back a metre from the corner, which would make scoring a try easier and a ball kicked out harder to judge.

There is the proposal that the duties of the touch judge be extended to dealing with off-side in the manner of soccer referees - warning about off-side and showing it with a directional flag.

At present all of these are speculations, not laws.

Source: Rugby Planet.


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