World Rugby has released 10 approved optional law trials to provide national rugby unions with options to reduce the transmission risk of Covid-19.
These temporary law trials were identified after a detailed analysis of over 60 matches. All the optional laws relate to either the scrum, tackle, ruck and maul areas and were provided to national unions with a package of best-practice hygiene measures for match days.
These laws are also in line with the World Health Organisation guidance, which determines a high-transmission risk as being 15 cumulative minutes within one metre of an infected person.
Unions can now apply to implement one or more of the laws at either an elite or community level.
The trials provide limits to scrum options with no scrum resets, with a free kick instead awarded to the team in possession at the scrum. There is also an amendment to take away the option of a scrum when a penalty or free kick is awarded.
In terms of the tackle area, there is the option of introducing an orange card, which can be shown at a potential red-card tackle offence. According to the amendment, the player receiving the orange card will be removed from the field, pending a TMO review of the incident to decide whether it is a red or yellow card.
The time limit to play the ball at rucks could be reduced from five to three seconds, with the option of a scrum taken away if a team fails to play the ball in the allotted time.
Limits at the maul include players not being allowed to join the maul if they were not in it from the start and only one forward movement allowed per maul.
The amendments could reduce contact exposure for tight-five players by more than 30%, reduce exposure at the ruck by up to 25% and reduce maul exposure by at least 50%.
In addition to the law amendments, a number of non-law hygiene measures have been recommended. These include:
- Mandatory hand and face sanitisation pre- and post-match
- Regular ball sanitisation before, during and after matches
- Single-user water bottles/hydration
- Changing of jerseys, shorts and headgear at half time where possible
- Prevention of huddles and celebrations involving contact
- Prevention of spitting and nose clearance.
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