2014 Law Changes

[Source: Harry Laws <>; Sun, Jul 13, 2014 12:21:00 AM]

There are seemingly a large number of changes that came out of the Council Meeting in May, but in reality the vast majority is either a revision for clarity or changing last fall’s Global Trial Laws to permanent status.  There are a few substantive changes – they are highlighted.  The Laws as posted on include all these changes and I urge referees and coaches to actually read them.

Law 3 – Number of Players

  • The IRB has gone to eight substitutes for International teams.  USA has been at eight for a while.
  • The use of up to five substitutes in 7s was accepted into full Law.
  • All sections concerning front row number, replacements, etc. are now gathered into one section (3.5).
  • The definition of a “blood injury” requiring temporary replacement has changed.  The old wording was “open or bleeding wound”.  The new wording is “uncontrolled active bleeding”.  The codifies what has been practiced by many – allowing minor blood repairs to be done on the pitch, if that is possible within the injury minute.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.
  • Temporary replacement for pitch side concussion assessment continues to be trialed in competitions selected by the IRB.  THIS IS NOT TO BE IMPLEMENTED AT ANY LEVEL IN THE USA AT THIS TIME.

Law 4 – Players’ Clothing

  • Tights have been confirmed as legal for female players.
  • The Trial rescinding the ban on single studs at the toe of boots has demonstrated that they are no more dangerous than other patterns and therefore single studs are no longer banned.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.
  • The wearing of a GPS is still at the Global Trial stage (and has not been authorized in the US).

Law 6 – Match Officials

  • Persons entering and leaving the playing area has been re-written for clarity.  Water carriers are only allowed onto the pitch during injury stoppages.  This is labeled as a substantive change, but really it is just recognition of existing practice.
  • Expanded use of the TMO is still at the Global Trial stage.

Law 8 – Advantage

  • The section addressing more than one infringement has been re-written for clarity.

Law 9 – Method of Scoring

  • There is now a specific statement that conversion kicks must be taken from the field-of-play.  [This was always true – you just had to dig around to prove it.]
  • The use of kicking tees was clarified and the “placer” was explained.
  • The time for a conversion kick (90 seconds from the time of the try) was confirmed as Law.

Law 11 – Offside

  • This change finally fixes an editing error that snuck in during the re-write in 2000.  When a player is offside in general play, the non-offending team has the option of a scrum where the ball was last played.  This was hidden in 11.4 for the past fourteen years.  Now it is right up front.
  • When a player is offside under the ten meter Law, while retiring they may not obstruct an opponent (current) or interfere with play (new addition).

Law 12 – Knock-on or Throw-forward

  • The options available for a knock that goes into touch have been confirmed.  A team that takes a quick throw-in has exercised its option.

Law 13 – Kick-off and Restart Kicks

  • Added a provision to cover the case where a kick-off goes into the kicking team’s in-goal.

Law 16 – Ruck

  • The five seconds to play the ball once it is available was confirmed.

Law 17 – Maul

  • When a maul goes to ground (without infringement) it is either unplayable (turnover) or the ball is available.  If the ball is available, there are five seconds in which to play it.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.

Law 19 – Touch and Lineout

  • Where a quick throw-in may be taken was confirmed.
  • The requirements for a quick throw-in were rewritten for clarity.
  • If a quick throw is taken in front of the line-of-touch options are offered.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.
  • Scrum or lineout option from a knock-on into touch was confirmed.
  • Where the receiver must stand was clarified.
  • “Sacking” the catcher was clarified as must happen prior to the formation of a maul-at-lineout.

Law 20 – Scrum

  • Front rows may not pull their opponents.
  • Current engagement process (crouch, bind, set) is still considered a Trial.

Law 21 – Penalty and Free Kicks

  • Quickly taken PK and FK that are taken at the wrong place will be taken again.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE that in reality recognizes and codifies current practice.  NOTE:  This does not relieve the kicker from having to kick the ball properly.
  • If a team is awarded a PK or a FK at a lineout, they may choose to have another lineout (or a scrum) in lieu of the kick.  This confirms the Global Trial from last fall.
  • If a team chooses a lineout in lieu of a Free Kick, they cannot score a drop goal until after an opponent has played or touched the ball, or tackled the ball carrier.  Confirms Global Trial.


Categories: General