- Disciplinary sanctioning regime central to values and player welfare
- World Rugby reviews regulations after every Rugby World Cup
- Revised process reflects community and elite rugby landscape
- Hard line on foul play contacting the head with minimum mid-range entry points to protect player welfare
- Involvement of recent former players, referees and coaches in the judicial process in the elite game
- Resolution to expedite judicial hearings
- Regulation to take effect from 3 January, 2017
World Rugby has announced details of an enhanced and modernised Regulation 17 framework following an extensive review of the sport's disciplinary processes.
The approval of a revised sanctions table and disciplinary structure by its Council reflects the international federation's commitment to reviewing key regulations between Rugby World Cups to ensure a process that is relevant and appropriate within a rapidly evolving and expanding sport.
Significantly, to drive greater connection between the disciplinary process and the modern rugby environment, a new judicial policy will apply under the merit-based appointment scheme for elite 15s international matches, whereby World Rugby will appoint three-person judicial committees, wherever practicable, comprising one lawyer and two individuals with recent experience in the modern professional game (playing, coaching or refereeing).
While this process is also encouraged at other levels of the game, single judicial officers can continue to be appointed to deal with cases in those competitions as necessary, applying the same regulatory processes and sanction table in order to ensure all levels of the game are dealt with appropriately, proportionately and consistently.
Simultaneously, the Council resolved to expedite the scheduling and resolution of judicial hearings as quickly as practicable following a red card, citing or other disciplinary matter in order to provide teams certainty as early as possible for the purposes of team selection and travel arrangements for subsequent fixtures.
A revised sanctions table will be effective from 3 January, 2017 and will be accompanied by game-wide education of disciplinary personnel to drive greater consistency of application across multiple competitions and jurisdictions. These were recommended by representatives of the playing, coaching, officiating, media and judicial fraternity at the judicial review workshop in June this year.
- Tougher sanctions for dangerous play relating to the head
- Revision of entry points to reflect modern game
- Minor adjustments to other entry points to make them more practical for the aggravation and mitigation element of the sanctioning process
- Equivalent, consistent adjustments to the underage sanctions table taking into account shorter seasons and other disciplinary measures at that level
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "We continue ensure that our structures reflect and support a modern, growing and thriving game by reviewing all aspects of our regulatory framework between Rugby World Cups.
"We know there is increased scrutiny of rugby's laws and regulations from fans and the media. Player welfare and upholding the values of the game are of paramount importance as we reach out to more men, women and children around the world.
"I am confident that the revised Regulation 17, dealing with foul play, delivered following the full consultation of our member unions, is representative of a sport that is founded on the values of discipline, respect and integrity. It will allow for greater consistency across the board, while recognising the practical differences between elite and community rugby.
"I would like to thank the unions for their full commitment and enthusiasm to a process that will deliver an enhanced and strengthened regulation that will further promote consistency, protect our players and serve the game well at all levels as the sport grows in popularity and appeal."