World Rugby has announced an immediate amendment to Law 3 to stipulate that a match cannot restart until a player leaving the field of play for a blood injury or Head Injury Assessment (HIA) has been temporarily replaced.
The amendment, approved by the international federation’s Executive Committee, codifies an area that was previously at the discretion of the referee. It has the dual intention of promoting player welfare best practice by enabling a player to be assessed and treated as soon as possible, while also ensuring that teams are not disadvantaged by playing with fewer players than permitted for a short period.
The amendments apply only to elite matches that have been approved for HIA and the use of temporary substitutions. The amended law now reads:
Law 3 – Game – Temporary Replacements
Amendments to Law 3 are set out in bold below.
TEMPORARY REPLACEMENT - BLOOD INJURY
25. When a player has a blood injury, that player leaves the field of play and may be temporarily replaced. The injured player returns to play as soon as the bleeding has been controlled and/or covered. If the player is not available to return to the field of play within 15 minutes (actual time) of leaving the playing area, the replacement becomes permanent.
26. In international matches, the match-day doctor decides whether an injury is a blood injury necessitating a temporary replacement. In matches which have been approved in advance by World Rugby for use of the HIA process, the game cannot restart until the player with the blood injury has been temporarily replaced.
TEMPORARY REPLACEMENT - HEAD INJURY ASSESSMENT (HIA)
27. In matches which have been approved in advance by World Rugby for use of the HIA process, a player who requires an HIA:
a) Leaves the field of play; and
b) Is temporarily replaced (even if all the replacements have been used). The game cannot restart until the player who requires an HIA has been temporarily replaced. If the player is not available to return to the field of play after 10 minutes (actual time) of leaving the playing area, the replacement becomes permanent.