Rugby laws change

2008-06-06 00:00

At the beginning of this season, all clubs and schools were issued with a new set of laws, the so-called ELVs (Experimental Law Variations). They were to be applied in all games being played in South Africa.

The IRB has accepted some of these, which will now apply to all rugby internationally. In the northern hemisphere they will not be implemented until August 1, the start of their 2008/9 season.

In South Africa, where the ELVs have already been implemented, the situation for referees, players and, most importantly, ill-informed spectators has been complicated by a revision of laws from June 1.

If you are watching a schools match this morning and then the Test between the Springboks and Wales this afternoon, they will be refereed differently as the internationals will be played under the old laws.

For those watching schools’ rugby, the most significant ELVs that will now be implemented are:

•the ball cannot be taken back into the 22-metre area and then kicked directly into touch;

•a quick throw-in at the lineout may go backwards;

•players are allowed to pull a maul down provided they are part of the maul;

•players not in the scrum (except for the scrumhalf) must be five metres back;

•players entering rucks or mauls must do so through the gate.

The ELVs that will no longer be in use after June 1 are:

•an incorrect throw at the line out will not result in a free kick but will be an option of a scrum or lineout,

•there will be no offside line across the field at a tackle,

•hands in the ruck will not be allowed,

•if the ball becomes unplayable at a tackle/ruck, the side that was moving forward will be awarded a scrum.

It is important to understand that the referee at most club and school games is not a professional and he referees for the love of the game.

Criticism from the touch line, as is so often heard at some school games, is strongly discouraged.

If the Referees Society cannot supply referees (because people do not want to be abused on a weekly basis and often by the uninformed), then some of the first team games at schools will have to be blown by members of staff.

Which would the public prefer?

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