Although some rugby fans have been critical of World Rugby’s constant tinkering with the game’s laws, it’s hard to knock a sporting organisation that is constantly looking at ways to evolve the sport it governs.
Take football for instance, despite the availability of goal line technology, FIFA was opposed to it’s introduction and UEFA resorted to deploying assistant referees behind each goal line in a bid to ascertain whether or not the ball had crossed the line.
Although these goal line referees had a greater role than just watching the flight of the ball, these “human cameras” failed on numerous occasions to spot incidents of foul play in the penalty area.
In contrast, while rugby has embraced technology, match officials may have come to rely on it to a much greater extent than originally envisaged.
Nevertheless, the employment of the TMO demonstrated rugby’s willingness to evolve, a trait that has served World Rugby well in the professional era.
While traditionalists may question World Rugby’s motivation for introducing laws that make the game more ascetic for casual sports fans, skillful players need to be rewarded for their endeavour.
To that end, World Rugby have made changes to law five, allowing attacking teams kick a penalty to touch even if the match clock has ticked past the 80 minute mark.
The change has been introduced so as to discourage defending teams from giving a way tactical penalties in a bid to slow their opponents.
Likewise, World Rugby have also adapted the advantage law. The attacking team will now be able to select the most advantageous penalty mark if the defending side concede multiple infringements.
A further law change will see the game continue when a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area, even if the ball was deemed to have crossed the touchline.
In order to speed up the game, conversions will no longer be required after a penalty try has been awarded, instead the value of the score has been increased from five to seven points.
Finally, in a bid to discourage teams from manufacturing uncontested scrums, such scrums must be contested by 16 players, even if one side has been reduced to fourteen men as a result of a sin binning or sending off.
The above laws are being trialled in the from January 1 in the southern hemisphere and August 1 in the north.
Although the players selected for the British and Irish Lions tour may not be accustomed to the new laws, they will be imposed during the tour of New Zealand.
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