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Updates

Changes to laws and rules for games come into effect every season and cannot always be reflected in our books.  Check this page for updates.


Rugby

2013-14 season changes in rules

The IRB are changing referee instructions at scrums for the second time in two years. Details follow:


The driving force behind the introduction of the new engagement sequence was not to improve the game - that is a hoped-for by-product - but player safety and long-term welfare.

The research, overseen by the IRB's scrum steering group, cost £500,000 and covered all levels of the game from international rugby to youth rugby.

The results were the same at every level. By having players bind before they engage, the force of the two packs coming together - known colloquially as 'the hit' - is reduced by 25 per cent.

However, a whole generation of hookers have grown up not having to strike for the ball so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

Some Aviva Premiership directors of rugby are known to feel the IRB has rushed the trial laws through too quickly, but time was of the essence for the governing body.

If the trials are accepted in full law next summer, then teams will have had two years playing under the new scrum sequence before the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree is concerned by the fact that the new sequence will benefit the defending team, who can push with all eight players while the attacking hooker strikes for the ball.

But he is encouraged by the fact that the early bind will make it impossible for teams to "bail out" if they lose the engagement, by going to ground and forcing a re-set or in an attempt to win a penalty.

The new laws are expected to develop "stronger scrummagers who are technically more efficient".

Packs will look to get as low as possible, which will benefit the more skilful front row practitioners rather than those whose success has been down to their size and power.

The new scrum laws are being used in the forthcoming Rugby Championship and will be in place for the start of the northern hemisphere club season.  Their first use in an Australia/New Zealand international were not promising, but only time will tell. Hookers are going to have to learn to ensure the ball is put into the scrum "straight" from now on - not something they are necessarily used to doing at senior level - and referees will have their work cut out to ensure penalties are awarded for improper introduction of the ball into the tunnel.  This first international proved a learning curve for the referee as much as for the players.

Referees will use the spoken engagement sequence, "crouch, bind, set", in future.

The referee will then wait until the set-piece is stable before instructing the scrum-half to put the ball into the scrum straight with a call of 'yes nine'. Only then can the two packs push.

The new scrum protocols are expected to lead to fewer collapses, fewer re-sets and a genuine contest for the ball, although the IRB know there will be teething problems.

The latest editions published by Meyer & Meyer contain all these updates.