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Iain Robertson reports for the BBC
"The introduction of the sin bin will generally be welcomed"
 real 28k

Friday, 21 January, 2000, 22:50 GMT
Sin bin for Six Nations

Sin bin Sin bins have been used for some time in the Premiership

The sin bin is to be introduced to the Six Nations, after international rugby chiefs launched sweeping changes to the game.

The scrum and line-out will also be overhauled, as the International Rugby Board (IRB) decided to react to widespread criticism of the recent World Cup.

IRB law changes
10-minute 'sin bin' for serious infringements
'Use it or lose it' rule at scrums
Easing of rules on supporting line-out jumpers
Stricter guidlines for players challenging for possession
Under the new sin bin rules, players can be sent to the sidelines for 10 minutes after committing an offence that the referee sees as serious, but not serious enough to warrant a sending off.

However, the IRB was at pains to point out that the changes are only being implemented on an experiemental basis.

As well as the Six Nations, they will also be brought in for the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup and next month's Super 12 and the Tri-Nations series between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The sin bin - which was first used in rugby league - has proved a success since being introduced to the Allied Dunbar Premiership and the law-makers have decided to make the step up to the international arena.

scrum Law changes are aimed at preventing scrummage stalemate
Former referee Allan Hosie, who chairs the IRB's laws committee, said the introduction of the sin bin would deter cheats.

"The Southern Hemisphere and other countries have used it for some years and it works very well," he said.

"It's the way to clean up the game, to prevent deliberate cheating and foul play and we know teams playing a man short nearly always concede a score before he returns."

Expert input

Before adopting the changes, the IRB discussed the proposals with the coaches of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South Africa and Australia, as well as leading players like Sean Fitzpatrick and Jeremy Guscott.

High tackles and dangerous play could result in the sin bin
IRB chairman Vernon Pugh said: "They had the experience and the opportunity to review in detail all aspects of the game, with particular emphasis on Rugby World Cup 99, and were unanimous in their opinion that certain immediate law experimentation was required."

Wales coach Graham Henry welcomed the arrival of sin bins: "I think it's a good idea. The more we can sharpen up the game and improve it the better.

"This makes sense and it will be an improvement for the sport."

The other changes announced by the IRB were:

  • Defending players will only be allowed to challenge for possession by joining the contest behind the player nearest to their own goal line who is involved in the tackle.

    This is intended to reduce the number of stoppages and the number of times players go to ground while struggling for the ball.

  • In scrums, a new "use it or lose it" law should address situations where the scrum is either wheeled through more than 90 degrees or becomes stationary leading to repeated resets.

    Under the new laws the team that puts the ball in and then fails to use it will see the referee awarding possession to the other team at the reset scrum.

  • In the line-out, players can now pre-grip on their jumpers before the ball is thrown. The jumpers can be supported from behind on the shorts and above the knees from the front, thus providing greater stability.

  • Players will no longer be required to run to the line-out when taking part in a peel move. Instead they will be allowed to peel off and move to the ball at a greater distance from the line-out, thus gaining more momentum and opening up new attacking options.

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