Global law trials

With the summer’s rugby just down south just starting up this might be a good time to remind ourselves of the global law trials that were announced in November 2016. The trial began on January 1, 2017 in the southern hemisphere and is scheduled to be introduced on August 1, 2017 in the north and will last for an initial period of one year.

Crucially for those in the north, the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour and June window internationals will be played under the global law trials. (The World Rugby u20s Championship is also affected by the amendments). Most of the changes are relatively minor but there are some fairly fundamental alterations as to when the ball is considered to be in touch.

Law 3 Number of Players – The Team

3.6 (Uncontested Scrums) additional clause (h):
Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.

Reasoning: To discourage teams from going to uncontested scrums.

Practical application: Space out in the backs when a team runs out of front row players.

Law 5 Time

Added to 5.7(e):
If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.

Reasoning: To discourage teams from infringing in the dying moments of the game.

Practical application: John Muldoon will now be correct when he says Connacht can take a lineout when the 80 minutes are up

Law 8 Advantage

Added to 8.1(a):
When there are multiple penalty infringements by the same team, the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous of the penalty marks.

Reasoning: To discourage repeat offending when advantage is already being played and to reward teams against whom repeat offending has taken place.

Practical application: In the event of multiple offences captains will be able to choose which of the penalty marks suits best e.g. in the middle if kicking for points; out wide if going for the corner.

Law 9 Method of Scoring

Additional clause under 9.A.1 (points values):
Penalty Try. If a player would probably have scored a try but for foul play by an opponent, a penalty try is awarded. No conversion is attempted.
Value: 7 points

Reasoning: To discourage teams from illegally preventing a probable try from being scored while also saving time on the clock by negating the need for a conversion.

Practical application: Time saved. (And no easy padding of kicking stats…)

Law 19 Touch and Lineout

Added to definitions on page 117:
A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.

Reasoning: This brings into law something that is already applied in practice. It means that a player “juggling” the ball does not have to be in contact with it at the exact moment of touching the touchline or the ground beyond it for the ball to be deemed to be in touch. This makes it easier for the match officials to adjudicate.

Practical application: Brought into line with the treatment of a player juggling the ball as in possession so therefore fair game to be tackled.

Amended eighth definition on page 117:
If a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area (or if that player catches the ball and throws it back into the playing area) before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches the plane of touch.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Practical application: The ball has to cross the plane of touch and contact the ground (or someone in contact with the ground) to be considered out. Those exaggerated Hollywood style jump and flick back into play will no longer be a waste of time.

Added to definitions on page 117:
If the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Practical application: Taking to the air and offloading Leone Nakarawa style can keep the play alive.

Added to sixth definition on page 117:
In this case, if the ball has passed the plane of touch when it is caught, then the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch. If the ball has not passed the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Practical application: No more smart plays, sticking one foot in touch and catching the ball in the field of play. Do that now and the opposition will have the throw in.


  1. The biggest annoyance in rugby at the moment is still the scrums – refs wrongly penalise scrums that are losing and going backwards – front rows cheat all day long – moronic restarts when the scrum is at the base of the scrum and the front rows go down.

    Yet none of the trial laws address this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting.

    Scrum-half must throw the ball in straight but can align left shoulder with the middle of the tunnel.

    There is actually a law for this already – the shoulder rubbish is an addition.


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