Player welfare considerations are at the heart of World Rugby’s quadrennial law review process, which will consider potential law changes within the next Rugby World Cup cycle. 

Rugby’s global governing body calls for member unions and regional associations to provide feedback on the laws of the game every four years to maximise enjoyment for players and fans and ensure the sport’s continuous development. 

In this cycle, unions have been encouraged to submit ideas across the following areas with a particular focus on enhancements to player welfare. 

All submissions must be in line with the game’s charter and, specifically, should ensure: 

  • The laws protect players from injury, especially concussion
  • A contest for possession in contact, in general play and when play is restarted at scrums, lineouts, kick-offs etc
  • The game remains a sport for all shapes and sizes
  • The unique identities of the game are maintained, such as the scrum, lineout, ruck, maul, tackle, kick-off and restarts
  • Any changes must promote enjoyment for participants and entertainment for spectators
  • The laws must be able to be applied by match officials 

The recommendations will be technically assessed by the Laws Representation Group (LRG), a body made up of experts nominated by unions representing the coaching, playing and refereeing areas. 

The LRG’s remit is to assess proposals technically and take into consideration the impact that any suggested amendments might have on the shape and fabric of the sport and they will be supported by a multi-disciplinary concussion prevention group. 

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “World Rugby is committed to continual review and assessment of the laws of the game to ensure that rugby is as enjoyable and safe to play as possible at all levels. 

“Our number-one priority is player welfare and while injuries at the elite level of the game are not increasing, this review cycle will reinforce the commitment as player welfare enhancements will be central to our thinking. 

“This process occurs after every Rugby World Cup. It is a health-check and an opportunity to take stock of the game and make changes where needed with players and the ongoing prosperity of the sport in mind.” 

The previous cycle saw the revision of the scrum engagement sequence on player welfare grounds following extensive evaluation and trials. The crouch-bind-set sequence has reduced forces on engagement by more than 25 per cent at the elite level. 

Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey added: “Rugby continues to thrive and grow at all levels around the world. This process is an exciting opportunity to consider potential amendments that could enhance the game. 

“The LRG brings together a significant amount and diversity of expertise and I look forward to working with it members to assess all the potential law changes submitted by member unions for consideration within the next Rugby World Cup cycle.” 

Submissions regarded as appropriate for implementation consideration will be presented as a full analysis to the Rugby Committee with initial local trials commencing in early 2016.