World Rugby introduces experimental rules

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Rugby referees Nic Berry from Australia (left) and Ben O’Keeffe from New Zealand will be among the team of refs implementing experimental rules during the Castle Lager Lions Series.
Rugby referees Nic Berry from Australia (left) and Ben O’Keeffe from New Zealand will be among the team of refs implementing experimental rules during the Castle Lager Lions Series.

If you were confused about the law interpretations in the British and Irish Lions series, hold on to your seats, because World Rugby have introduced a number of experimental laws to try and make the game more attractive.

And they’re coming to your screens this weekend in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The 2021 Global Law Variations came into effect on August 1, 2021 and already other teams have had the advantage of playing under them. The laws weren’t put into effect for the Lions series, but the Springboks will get their first taste of them this weekend.

And while it may be weird to once again look at new law changes, have a look below at where things will be different so you don’t get confused this weekend.

The laws that will be implemented are as follows:

50:22: if the team in possession kick the ball from their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents’ 22, they will throw into the resultant lineout. The ball cannot be passed or carried back into the defensive half for the 50:22 to be played. The phase must originate inside the defensive half.

Goal line drop-out: if the ball is held up in-goal, there is a knock-on from an attacking player in in-goal or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal, then play restarts with a goal line drop-out anywhere along the goal line.

Flying wedge: to sanction the three-person pre-bound mini-scrum by redefining the flying wedge.

One man latch: to recognise the potential for one-player pre-latching prior to contact, but this player must observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet.

Clean-out and safety of the Jackler: to introduce a sanction for clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs.

Testing a 20-minute Red Card law

World Rugby have also approved a Sanzaar request to use the 20-minute Red Card law trial in The Rugby Championship 2021 (and Bledisloe Cup matches).

If a player is red-carded, they may be replaced after 20 minutes by another player. The 20 minutes from when a player is red-carded to when they may be replaced is measured as “game time”. This follows the same measurement of time already in place for a yellow-carded player in the sin bin (mean sin bin clock is stopped when the game clock is stopped).

A player receives a yellow card and is sin-binned for 10 minutes. If the same player then returns to the field after serving their 10-minute suspension and subsequently receives a second yellow card, that equates to an automatic red card. After a further 20 minutes the red-carded player can be replaced.

A player who has been tactically replaced is able to return to the field to replace a red-carded player.

Any red-carded player cannot return under any circumstance.

If you’re still confused, head over to World Rugby’s website where an in-depth explanation is available at: — which includes details of the trial, the intention, links to trial law and video examples.

But for now fasten those seat-belts and take note. The first few weeks will have their teething problems but World Rugby ultimately believe this will make the game more attractive.

Whether or not it does waits to be seen.

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