LONDON (Reuters) – World Rugby has agreed trials of new laws to make tackling safer and prevent injuries, it announced on Thursday.
The six law trials follow a comprehensive evaluation by the expert Law Review Group which concluded that 50% of injuries and 76% of concussions occurred in tackles.
Depending on the success of the trials some of the new rules could be in place by the 2023 World Cup.
One of the closed trials will be to reduce tackle height to the waist in a bid to reduce head injuries.
The others are:
* 50:22 kick – If the team in possession kicks the ball from inside their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents’ 22 or from inside their own 22 into their opponents’ half, they will throw in to the resultant lineout.
* The High Tackle Technique Warning – Successfully trialled at the World Rugby U20 Championship for the last two years reducing the incidence of concussion by more than 50%.
* Review a yellow card when a player is in the sin-bin for dangerous foul play to ensure players who are guilty of serious foul play do not escape with a yellow card rather than red.
* The introduction of an infringement (penalty and free-kick) limit for teams. Once a team has reached the limit, a mandatory yellow card is given to the last offending player as a team sanction.
* The awarding of a goal-line drop-out to the defending team when an attacking player, who brings the ball into in-goal, is held up.
The infringement limit, the 50:22 kick and the goal-line drop-out have all been approved for closed trials in National Rugby Championship in Australia.
World Rugby’s executive committee have also ratified further evaluation into a reduction in replacements.
“World Rugby is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring rugby is as simple and safe to play as possible for all,” chairman Bill Beaumont said.
“While injury incidence in the sport is not increasing and concussion incidence is decreasing, we can and must do more to reduce injuries at all levels. This is an important milestone on that journey.
“The next step is to identify in partnership with our unions’ appropriate competitions to run the trials.”
Several unions, including those in Australia, France, Georgia, Fiji and South Africa, are interested in operating one or more of the trials in domestic or cross-border competition.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)