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International Rugby Board amends laws to protect players
November 26th 2010
The International Rugby Board (IRB) Council yesterday approved amendments to two aspects of law that will ensure that the welfare of players always comes first.
Amendments to law governing the spear tackle and hand-off will operate across the game from December 1, 2010, providing greater clarity on the definition of each action and in turn delivering a stronger disciplinary position.
The other law amendments approved by Council were an adjustment to the maximum permitted duration of the half-time interval and clarity around the procedure for infringements committed in-goal.
The IRB Council has reinforced its zero-tolerance towards all dangerous tackles by approving an amendment to the law relating to the spear tackle.
An amendment to Law 10.4(j) has been approved to recognise the defensive actions of the tackled player when the arms are outstretched to break a fall and to further ensure the consistency of application of the appropriate sanction for offending players.
The amended Law 10.4(j) will now read: Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
Council also approved an amendment to Law 7 and 10.4(f) to ensure that there is an appropriate definition for the act of handing off or fending off an opponent.
Despite the legal hand-off being part of the game at all levels, the act was not clearly defined in law or referred to within the mode of play section.
The new definition is intended to bring greater clarity to the Act, minimising the potential for any confusion. A definition has been added: An action taken by a ball carrier to fend off an opponent by using the palm of the hand.
The amended Law 10.4(f) will now read: Playing an opponent without the ball. Except in a scrum, ruck or maul, a player who is not in possession of the ball must not hold, push or obstruct an opponent not carrying the ball.
The council also approved an amendment to Law 5 which will permit a match organiser, member union or recognised body with jurisdiction over the match to implement a half-time interval of up to a maximum of 15 minutes.
The amendment comes after extensive consultation with member unions, including an IRB sanctioned trial in the English Premiership in 2007 2008 to establish whether there would be any change to the risk of injury by extending the half-time interval.
The analysis of the Premiership trial established that there was no additional injury risk and that the extended half-time period could present player welfare benefits.
The revised Law will operate from January 1, 2011.
Council also approved amendments to Laws 10, 21 and 22 to ensure greater consistency between the laws and provide clarity for infringements committed within the in-goal area.
The mark for penalty kicks and free kicks awarded as a result of an infringement in the in-goal area will be awarded in the field of play and that any kicks taken in the in-goal are as a result of players retiring to take kicks.
The awarding of sanctions (scrums, penalty kicks and free kicks) for offences in the in-goal will all be 5m from the goal line and in line with the infringement.
The amended law will operate from December 1, 2010. — DDC
RFU Council Member for Cumbria