Law Changes for this Season
You will notice some changes to the referees' decisions this season. Here is a summary of what to look out for and why they have been introduced.
The 50:22 kick
will give a team put-in to the line-out if they kick into touch indirectly (i.e. on the bounce) when kicking from their own half into the opposition 22m. Like the existing 22m rule, if the play starts outside your half, the subsequent kick does not qualify and the defending team would be given the line-out put-in.
The law trial aims to force players to drop deeper in the defensive line, creating space for attackers.
Drop-outs from the goal-line
will take place when the attacking team is held up over the line, knocks-on or their kick is grounded by the defensive side. Instead of an attacking scrum/defending scrum and 22 drop-out respectively, these will all now see play restart with a drop-out anywhere behind the goal-line which must go beyond the 5m line.
This law trial is intended to make attacking teams more creative and create counter-attack opportunities by reducing the number of scrums and keeping the ball in play longer.
Note that if a ball is grounded after a penalty kick, drop-goal attempt or re-start kick, then the 22 drop-out still applies.
Pre-binding by players
relates to the practice of 3 or more players binding onto the ball carrier to increase the weight and power, often around rucks and close to the try line. This is now not allowed (but please see the 'latching' law). This will result in a penalty kick.
This is intended to make the game safer and lead to more creative uses for the ball.
when one-player latches (binds) will be permitted, but this player has the same responsibilities as a first arriving player (i.e. must stay on feet, enter through gate and not fall to floor). The sanction will be a penalty kick
The game is continuing to focus on reducing injuries in the tackle area. Watch out for lower tackles as anything above the chest height in all levels of the game will now be penalised to reduce contact with the head and potentially those big hits that see the ball carrier hit backwards at a great speed.
The Ruck clear-out
The referees will also be looking out for any players that target/drop their weight onto the lower limbs of a jackler (someone competing/protecting the ball in a ruck). The sanction will be a penalty kick