Felix McCabe takes a look at the new laws we’ll be getting used to next season.
Welcome again rugger buggers for another installment of my egg-chasing banter. This week I’m going to be looking at some of the rule amendments that the IRB will trial this Autumn and we’ll look at how this might benefit or hinder the game.
The five amendments proposed are as follows:
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.
I can immediately see the first rule being one of the hardest to police. If we’re to see a scrum everytime the ball isn’t used at the back of a ruck we may have to endure a very stop-start game – that doesn’t make for good viewing. We can all remember the Rabo final this year. Obviously the IRB are trying to cut out that wearing down the clock, holding the ball at the back of the ruck, that does go on in the dying minute of many games but the rule is a little misguided. Perhaps changing the sanction to something else could help add some fluidity back into the game; a quick tap and go seems best to me.
The next three rules seem straight forward enough and should be a welcomed addition tot he game. Especially the knock-on rule – which just makes sense!
Limiting the amount of time kickers have to take their conversions shouldn’t impact the game too much. It’s not too often we see kickers spending ridiculous amounts of time on their kicking anymore. I can see this being set in stone soon enough.
The IRB Council have also approved three specific additional trials which should make for interesting viewing:
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.
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.
The TMO expansion was always going to be topic for discussion. We have the technology, so why not use it? This would have come in very handy in the 2011 6 Nations game between Ireland and Wales when Mike Phillips used a different ball to score a try from a quick lineout (prohibited by Law 19.2).
The additional front-row forward on the subs bench is a great addition and should end the plague of uncontested scrums. Genuine injury has cost many teams their attacking force and put them on the back foot for the remainder of the game. An extra prop would see this problem almost completely eradicated.
The council have 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. This relates to the engagement sequence and, under the new amendment, will see the referee call “crouch” then “touch”. When the props withdraw their arms, the referee will then call “set” and the front rows may then set the scrum.
This may see the end of the “crouch, touch, pause...eeengage” renditions that have kept us entertained at home; mimicking our favourite referees whilst the ordeal of setting a scrum was underway.
Either way, we’ll move forward and find something else to mock (we always have Stade Francais jerseys, right?). Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the new rules and proposals. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Felix (@lightningrust): Blogger, eternal student of business & law, sunshine rugby player with a passion for music and fitness. Coffee is essential. Leinster fan and Irish proud.