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Page last updated at 18:39 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 19:39 UK

Law changes trial gets go-ahead

Danny Cipriani
Some northern hemisphere unions were unhappy with the changes

Rugby union's controversial new law changes will be trialled globally from grassroots to Test level for 12 months from 1 August.

Thirteen of the 23 Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) in use in the southern hemisphere will be introduced.

Players will now be able to defend a maul by pulling it down and there will be no restriction on the number of players in a lineout.

Some other ELVs will be trialled in an unnamed northern hemisphere event.

A further seven ELVs have been referred back to the International Rugby Board's laws group for more analysis.

The ELVs were partially trialled by teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in this year's Super 14, but some northern hemisphere unions have expressed reservations.

Last week, English Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron said: "We have concerns about the ELVs and the proposed process for their introduction."

606: DEBATE
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But International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset insisted the changes are essential, adding: "(They are) an important milestone for the future of the game."


Changes to be trialled worldwide include:

  • Players can defend a maul by pulling it down.
  • Introduction of an offside line five metres behind the hindmost feet of the scrum.
  • No restriction on the number of players who can participate in the lineout from either side (minimum of two).
  • The receiver in a lineout must stand two metres back from the lineout.
  • Flags are no longer considered to be in touch in-goal except when a ball is grounded against the post.



  • Further ELVs to be trialled in an elite northern hemisphere competition, expected to be the European Challenge Cup, include:

  • For all offences other than offside, not entering through the gate, and Law 10 - Foul Play, the sanction is a free kick.
  • If the ball is unplayable at the breakdown, the side that did not take the ball into contact will receive a free kick.
  • If a maul becomes unplayable, the team not in possession at the start of the maul receives a free kick.



  • see also
    RFU questions rugby law changes
    23 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
    Booth concern over law experiment
    13 Feb 08 |  London Irish
    Rewriting rugby's laws
    06 Dec 06 |  Rugby Union
    New scrummaging law takes force
    01 Jan 07 |  Laws & Equipment
    Rugby's laws remain baffling
    26 Jan 04 |  Rugby Union


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