The World Rugby Pacific Challenge kicks off in Fiji on Friday with the hosts aiming to defend their title..

The competition involving Fiji Warriors, Samoa A, Tonga A and Junior Japan will be played over three match days on 10, 14 and 18 March at the ANZ Stadium in Suva. 

The key investment tournament will feature closed law trials around the scrum and ruck areas.

It follows the implementation of World Rugby's global law trials which began on 1 January, 2017 in the southern hemisphere and will do so in the north on 1 August, 2017. These trials focused on front-row replacements, advantage, touch, penalty tries and time-keeping. Click here to read more. The British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand, the Pacific Nations Cup and and the U20 Championship will also be played under these global law trials. 

The closed trials will be in place in the Pacific Challenge and other World Rugby tournaments to be determined. 

The laws relating to the scrum and breakdown will be monitored by the Law Review Group who will, in turn, report to World Rugby’s Rugby Committee, who continually monitor the laws of the game. For more information on the laws of the game, click here.

The closed trials included in this year’s World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2017 are:

20.1 (g) Forming a scrum: While the ‘crouch, bind, set’ engagement sequence has achieved its objective of reducing scrum injuries by reducing forces on engagement by 25 per cent and reducing front row injuries by 50 per cent, the rate of completions remains low at the elite level of the game. The following law amendment trial is designed to promote stability and speed of ball availability, reducing the number of collapses and resets.  The referee will call “crouch” and then “bind”. In the “crouch” position the front rows will be shoulder to shoulder with their opponents, stable and supporting their own weight without pushing. On the “bind” call the props will position their arms in the correct ‘bind’ position.  (The correct ‘bind’ is as outlined in current Law 20.1 (g)]. The front rows (+ back 5 players) will tighten binds and set themselves for the throw-in.) The ball is then thrown-in without delay as per Law 20.5.

20.5 and 20.5 (d) 5 Throwing the ball into the scrum: No signal from Referee. The rationale is that the scrum-half (No.9) may receive a signal from his hooker (No.2) that the hooker is ready. This may encourage the No.2 to prepare to strike for the ball. The proposal is intended to give the advantage to the team throwing-in the ball. The scrum must be stable prior to feed, and the ball fed without delay in accordance with current law. The scrum half must throw the ball in straight, but is allowed to align his shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing him to stand a shoulder width towards his side of the middle line. This is designed to further promote scrum stability and enhance player welfare by reducing the pressure on the hooker striking the ball.
Law 20: Striking after the throw-in: Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball. Sanction: Free Kick.
The U19 Law: 1.5 meter limit push everywhere on pitch apart from a 5 meter scrum. Sanction: Free Kick. The trial will also allow the No.8 to pick out of second row feet at a 5m scrums only.                                                          
Law 15.4 (c): The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from his side of the tackle gate:
Amended ruck definition - Law 16: A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside line is created. A player on his feet may use his hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate.  As soon as an opposition player arrives no hands can be used.

The World Rugby Pacific Challenge begins on Friday at the ANZ Stadium in Suva when hosts Fiji Warriors take on Tonga A and Junior Japan face Samoa A.