World Rugby has approved minor adjustments in law relating to Law 5 (time) and Law 18 (touch) following consideration of unintended consequences of current law in specific circumstances.
The following adjustments, which deal with specific scenarios, will come into effect immediately across the game globally.
Law 5.7c (exceptions to the end of a half when the ball becomes dead)
Law 5.7c has been adjusted to align three aspects of law that deal with the scenario where time has elapsed and a team, having been awarded a penalty, kicks the ball into touch and the ball bounces before crossing the plane of touch without touching another player or the referee.
The principle of the law recognises that the lineout, like a scrum option, can be a penalty option in a different form. Therefore, even if the ball bounces into touch, the kicking team should maintain possession.
The revised law 5.7c will now read: A half ends when the ball becomes dead after time has expired unless a penalty is kicked directly into touch without the ball first being tapped and without the ball touching another player.
In practice this will mean: Ball is kicked from a penalty – A player kicks the ball into touch (either directly or first bouncing in the field of play or touching a player or the referee). Location of mark: Where the ball reaches the touchline. Who: Kicking team.
Law 18.8c (Lineout)
The principle behind the kicking team throwing into a lineout that results from a kick to touch following a penalty is that the non-offending team benefits from possession following a successfully executed kick for touch.
However, if the kicking team decides to compete for possession during that kick and a player from that team chases the kick and touches the ball on its way to touch, then they should forfeit their right to throw the ball into the resultant lineout. As the law is currently worded, the kicking team would still throw into the lineout, even if the ball hits one of their players before reaching touch, which is not in line with the intended principle.
Therefore, law 18.8c has been amended to address this unintentional anomaly: Event: Ball is kicked from a penalty – A player kicks the ball into touch (either directly or first bouncing in the field of play or hitting a player an opponent or the referee). Location of mark: Where the ball reaches the touchline. Who: Kicking team.
World Rugby will also be surveying the rugby family – players, coaches, referees and fans – on the package of closed law trials currently operating around the globe. With the Laws Review Group set to make recommendations in June as to which are progressed to global trial status, views of the rugby family will be taken into consideration as part of the decision-making process.