Rugby is without a doubt one, if not the most, complicated game to officiate of all professional sports codes…can you think of a tougher game to officiate? The World Rugby Organization (previously known as the IRB, which quite frankly was a much better name) reviews laws each year as the game evolves, they do this partially out of boredom, partially because of concerns over player safety and rarely for the advancement of the game. They (the IRB) then either make changes to existing laws or bring out new laws altogether.
Depending on the impact, the proposed law might have on the game, rule changes can either roll out instantaneously, in the following calendar year, or it can be used in a trial run like you would often see at grassroots level such as the Varsity Cup, which annually explores new changes to the game, although sadly few of the changes which have been experimented with in the Varsity Cup ever make it to the international stage.
Rugby Law Changes Coming In July 2017
Following hot on the heels of some major rule changes which have been implemented in Super Rugby at the start of the season, rugby referees, players and supporters will be tasked with remembering 7-more rules, varying in importance. These rules will officially come into effect worldwide as from 1 July. Below you can find the details of these new rugby rule changes, starting July 2017:
- Substitution Quota – Currently a team is allowed 7-replacments, be it technical, or forced by injury. Under this new law change if a player has been injured due to the result of foul play and needs to be replaced that substitution will not count towards the allocated 7 replacement quota.
- Scrum Advantage – We are rather in favour of this one. When a scrum infringement occurs, advantage will be played from the scrum, providing there is no risk to player safety. (We can see how this might lead to a number of debates and enraged supporters, wanting to have advantage played but not getting it, when the referee uses his judgment, whether it is safe to let play continue or not, tough game to officiate! )
- No Soccer Moves – We don’t often applaud World Rugby (the IRB) but again this is another law change we welcome. In a bid to prevent “soccer” like acting and diving, by way of trying to influence a referee’s decision-making, a player will receive the full wrath of referees, being liable for a red card or even a possible suspension depending on the severity.
- No Delaying The Game Clock – Teams need to be in scrum formation, ready to go within 30-seconds unless the referee specifically said, “time off.” A transgression, by taking up more than 30-seconds to form a scrum, results in a free kick to opposing team.
- Use it or lose it in the scrum – When a scrum goes static, not having forward momentum, the referee will issue a call of “use it” the attacking team then has 3-seconds to get the ball out, from under the number 8’s feet, transgression results in a free kick to the defending team.
- Mind The Gap – It is now a penalizable offence for the defending scrum half to move into the space between the flanker and the number 8.
- No more turnover after 90-degree wheel – At a re-set scrum following a 90-degree wheel, the ball is thrown in by the team that previously threw it in rather than the team not in possession.
Rule Changes, Conclusion – The Sport Freak’s Take.
All and all the above rule changes should not have a major effect on the game and we welcome most of them. One rule which we were hoping would be announced in 2017, which has not yet materialised is the 2-referee system. Rugby has become so technical, with ever expanding rules, combined with the fast-paced nature of the modern day game that 1-man being in charge of an international rugby match is approaching mission impossible. Yes, you do have many traditionalists opposed to a 2 referee system, however, one has to take the evolving nature of the sport into consideration, when opening such a debate.
What Do you think about the new law changes, are you for or against expanding the rule book? What are your thoughts on the 2 referee system, as always drop us a comment, we welcome all opinions!