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World Rugby ditches scrum option from free-kick

Teams will no longer be able opt for a scrum when awarded a free-kick as one of three law changes designed to make rugby union more entertaining, World Rugby has announced.

The new rules take effect from July 1 and so will be in force for England’s two-Test tour of New Zealand that month.

Officials hope removing the scrum as an option will encourage more open play with free-kicks having to be either kicked or tapped.

Another change concerns when players are put onside during kicks in open play, meaning anyone offside must now try to retreat, creating more space in which to play for the opposition.

Under the existing rule, referred to as the ‘Dupont Law’ after the France scrum-half Antoine Dupont exposed the loophole in the previous wording, players in an offside position were able to advance forward once an opponent caught the ball and ran five metres or passed the ball.

The upshot was prolonged bouts of ‘kick tennis’ which often proved frustrating to watch for spectators.

The third and final change announced by World Rugby is the banning of the “crocodile roll” — the potentially dangerous act of rolling a player who is on their feet out of the tackle area.

The offence will now be punished by a penalty.

World Rugby has also announced the trial of a revised red card process that will be observed in competition such as the WXV women’s tournament and the Pacific Nations Cup.

It will see automatic bans applied for red cards involving foul play, while a player sent off can be replaced by another player from the bench after 20 minutes, restoring a side to its full strength of 15 players.

“I believe that the law amendments and suite of closed trials will add to the entertainment factor,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

“As with all trials, we will comprehensively review their effectiveness and take feedback from across the game,” the former England captain added.

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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