New rugby law changes will not be trialled in Ireland

World Rugby proposals include Rugby League style kicks to touch and high tackle warning

A high tackle warning system has been proposed where players are given post match warnings if they have made upright tackles that result in head contact. . Photograph:  Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images

A high tackle warning system has been proposed where players are given post match warnings if they have made upright tackles that result in head contact. . Photograph: Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images

 

New law changes which have been discussed by World Rugby at a recent meeting in Paris and approved for further consideration will not be trialled in Ireland next year. Following a three day symposium in Paris a package of eight new proposals designed to reduce collisions and persuade players to tackle lower have been submitted for further investigation.

The ideas will go forward to World Rugby’s law reviews group where they will try to iron out unintended consequences before approving the changes for trial on January 1st.

“They couldn’t be trialled here because it is mid-season in the northern hemisphere. It would be more likely in the southern hemisphere where the season is just starting,” said an Irish rugby official. “You couldn’t introduce new rules mid season. It would have to be from the get go. Very unlikely to be in Ireland.”

All Irish competitions, the All-Ireland League, Pro14 and European Champions Cup will be in mid stream in January with the Six Nations Championship just weeks away from beginning.

Dangerous attacking platform

One proposal that has gained traction has been borrowed from Rugby League and rewards kicking to touch. 

If a player kicks from their own half and the ball bounces into touch inside the opposition 22 the team of the kicker is awarded the lineout throw and potentially a dangerous attacking platform. Currently the rules award the throw to the defending team.

The theory is that sides will have to drop wingers into the backfield to cover the kicks to touch with the scrumhalf also having to fill in the midfield area behind the defence to cover balls kicked over the defensive line. The idea is to take players out of the defensive line to provide more space for attacking rugby and possibly reduce the number of collisions.

Another novel proposal, according to The Times, is designed to change player behaviour and it proposes reviewing all yellow cards in real time while the player is in the sin bin. During the 10 minute sanction the card may be upgraded to a red if officials deem it necessary.

World Rugby also wants to see how it can curb high tackles in the game. A high tackle warning system has been proposed where players are given post match warnings if they have made upright tackles that result in head contact. Two such warnings could result in player a tournament ban.  

If approved for trial next January, World Rugby then needs to find a competition to adopt the proposals. It cannot be a top end tournament because there too much is at stake with unintended consequences. Any affect on the product could have a knock on effect with television and sponsors.

However, the level of competition needs to be high enough in terms of officials and players to yield good readings.

The proposals are expected to meet some resistance from traditionalists as the essence of rugby is as a collision game, although following the death of four players in France over an eight month period, safety in the game has become paramount.

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