IRB Law Changes – Summer 2012


There are some Law changes that just came out (and I am sure most have seen something about them). Below are some explanatory comments.

Peter Watson
Chair, USA Rugby Laws sub-committee

2012 IRB Law Changes
May 2012

This week the IRB issued a number of small changes in Law. Implementation dates vary – some go into effect now and others at the start of the next Fifteens season (September 1 or thereabouts). The exact wording of the new Laws is in the attached document.

These changes are on a Trial Basis. After some practical experience has been accumulated, the IRB will be soliciting Union opinions.

Effective immediately (actually went in last January 1)

Law 1 – The Ground
The two lines that delineate the beginning and end of lineouts – the five meter line and the fifteen meter line – are now to be dashed lines. Formerly they were dotted.

Effective June 1, 2012

Sevens Variations
Law 3.4 – Number of Players
A team may now nominate up to five replacements/substitutes and may use all of them.

Effective at or around June 1, 2012

Law 4.2 – Special additional items of clothing for women

Female players may wear cotton blend long tights with single inside leg seam under their shorts and socks.
This is pretty clear…if you are not female, don’t wear tights. Please do not ask me the rationale for this as I am not a mind-reader.

Law 4.3 – Studs
In Law 4.4, single-toe replaceable studs are prohibited. The IRB has approved, on a trial basis, one particular configuration of single-toe studs. It is shown in the attached document. All other forms are still illegal.

Law 9.B.1 – Taking a Conversion Kick
When a try is scored, the scoring team now has one and a half minutes (90 seconds) FROM THE TIME THE TRY IS SCORED to take the conversion. This is playing time, so if there is an injured player who has to be treated or removed before the kick, time is off.

Law 12.1 – Outcome of a Knock-on or Throw Forward
If the ball is knocked-on or thrown forward into touch, the non-offending team may choose the lineout (where it crossed the touch line) or the scrum (where the knock occurred). If they take a quick throw-in, they have made their choice.
And someone has already asked about knocks that go into touch-in-goal (or across the dead ball line). That situation is covered by Law 12.1 (c) and this change is not applicable in that case.

Law 16.7 – Unsuccessful End to a Ruck
This puts a “use it or lose it” requirement on rucks. Once the ball is clearly won and available to be played, the referee will call “use it” after which the ball must be played within five seconds. If not, it is a turnover – scrum to the other team.

Law 19.2 – Quick Throw-In
This change alters where a quick throw can be taken. Currently a quick throw can be taken anywhere from the place the ball crossed the touch line back to the thrower’s goal line. The change allows a quick throw to be taken anywhere from the place of the lineout back to the thrower’s goal line. The gap that used to exist if the ball was kicked out on the fly from in front of the 22 is now gone. [I suspect this will have a bigger impact in Sevens than it will in Fifteens, but not this summer.]

Law 20.1 – Scrum Engagement
This is the biggie….a change to the process:
Referee says “crouch” and the teams crouch (or remain crouched if already down).
Referee says “touch” and the four props reach out and touch and then withdraw their arms.
When the referee is satisfied that the front rows appear ready to engage AND ARE STABLE, the referee says “set”. The front rows may then come together when ready. This is not a command. It is permission.

Law 21.4 – Penalty and Free Kick Options and Requirements
This change is only for free kicks and penalty kicks awarded at lineouts. A team that is awarded a kick may choose to have a lineout instead of the kick. And of course they may also choose a scrum in lieu of the kick.

Changes for selected International Competitions. These are not for implementation at the local level.

Law 3.4 – Players Nominated as Substitutes
A Union may nominate up to eight replacements/substitutes.
[The USA is already doing this per the provision in Law 3.14.]

Law 6.A.6 (b) – Referee Consulting with Others
This expands the use of the TMO.
And here are some videos that may help:

Further to my letter of last week on the IRB Council decision regarding law amendment trails and law clarifications.

We are pleased to provide the following links which may help in the dissemination of the message:

Law Amendment Trials:

Enforcement of current Law:

Five Key areas of Refereeing:

2012 Changes with explanations

120517 CL COU SM AM12 Council Decisions – Laws