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Thursday Aug 25, 2016

Explanation and feedback on the new law trials in place in New Zealand

Explanation and feedback on the new law trials in place in New Zealand

The launch of New Zealand’s domestic rugby season came with a new set of law trials, in both the Mitre 10 Cup (the NPC) and the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship. As we saw in round one of the Mitre 10 Cup, it is definitely a lot quicker.

After the most recent World Rugby law review, New Zealand Rugby have taken the law trials on board with a balance being struck between player safety, simplicity in application and understanding, and overall enjoyability.

On 1 January 2016 amendments to certain laws took effect in all levels of New Zealand Rugby concerning mauls and scrums. Super Rugby was the first to implement these changes.

Now New Zealand Rugby take on this next set of experimental laws, as World Rugby looks to improve certain aspects that should provide a more attractive game for fans and players.

The crew at the Breakdown on Sky Sport took a closer look after the first round of play.

Changes being trialled:


A different points scoring system will be used: Try = 6 points | Penalty Try = 8 points (no conversion attempt required) | Conversion = 2 points | Penalty goal = 2 points | Dropped goal = 2 points


Teams awarded a penalty after halftime or fulltime who choose to kick directly to touch must play the lineout.

Law 15: The Tackle

1. The tackler must release the ball carrier then re-join the tackle behind the midpoint to play the ball.
2. The first arriving defender may play the ball as long as they are on their feet, and prior to the breakdown being formed.
3. Players off their feet are out of the game.


1. A breakdown is formed when an attacking player is over the ball on their feet.
2. At this point an offside line is in place.
3. The breakdown offside line for defenders is the hindmost foot.
4. Players joining the breakdown must do so from behind the offside line and join behind the midpoint of the breakdown.

5. Players joining the breakdown must bind onto any player, using their whole arm.

6. Players must be on their feet for the duration of the breakdown.
7. A player may be in the halfback position and remain behind the hindmost foot offside line.
8. A player in the halfback position may lift the ball from the breakdown.
9. Once the ball emerges from the breakdown it has ended. 

After consideration and review by World Rugby, it remains a possibility that they would consider a global trial of some or all of these laws in 2017, and potential adoption in 2018. 

The video below explains the various aspects in finer detail. Let us know your thoughts?


  • drg
    11:04 AM 27/08/2016

    Horses for courses though, at the end of the day it's a style of successful playing.... When I got into senior rugby I used to seal off rucks successfully which secured the ball for our team... I could be rolled as a measure of counter rucking, I was normally low, head to the tackled players body and grab hold of him, the old school way of doing it... I'm happy for changes to be brought in to stop players getting a nasty injury, but I'm not sure about all this rubber foot type of thing thats going to go on, I don't think it will make more scrappy quick thinking passing, pre planned moves will become harder as a result, which is a bit of a shame...

  • 1:31 AM 26/08/2016

    I like this, back to the way it was when I started in the early 90s, especially with keeping the feet. I've hated the professional ruck flop creating a pile; there's no ruck contest and it's boring. To be honest when Pocock became the best player in the world because he could slow down the game; well that was boring. I'd still like to see some way the steal the ball; which I guess the tackler can if there in time; but I kinda like the wild balls bouncing around, more exciting than the pile up shown above.

  • drg
    12:26 AM 26/08/2016

    Rolling can still occur I guess... just not in the way of the ruck.... or have they just created a new 'grey area'..... "went off his feet yes, but didn't cause any interference with the ruck or close area" I can hear being the new referee interpretation..... Until Joubert gets involved that is...

  • 45678
    9:57 PM 25/08/2016

    Also wonder that if you can't go to ground in a ruck at all, it is harder for the attacking player to remove a contesting defensive player? Modern rucking requires a lot of lifting and rolling rather than old school collisions I've always been fine with players going to ground if they are positive and trying to clear? It's an Obvious penalty if they just seal the ball off by going to ground however

  • 45678
    9:48 PM 25/08/2016

    At a first glance, most of these laws apply to current rugby as I know and understand, however often misinterpreted by officials, so should provide consistency There's little sense in messing with point allocation, although higher points for a penalty try make sense. Penalties went up massively when tries went from 4-5 points Looking at it from a defensive point of view, it would make sense to not contest the breakdown and create a shallow offside line. This would slow the game down imho, especially in the northern hemisphere in the middle of winter. Net result is more kicking?

  • bnations
    6:57 PM 25/08/2016

    Removing the ability to play the ball with your hands in a breakdown is going to trigger far-reaching changes that will improve the game. As the NZ piece demonstrates, the ball will be bouncing around a good bit more on the ground now that you can't hold it in with your hands while sealing off the ruck. Therefore, it will be imperative when attacking to not allow it to get to the ground at all. I would expect to see a much greater emphasis on the off-load and keeping the ball alive rather than the current emphasis on going to ground and recycling. Going to ground will no longer be a safe option for the attacking side. I would also expect breakdowns to finish faster than they do today simply because they will be messier. The ball will get popped out if left on the ground uncontrolled for too long. This should be very good for the game from a spectator's POV. More running and less wrestling. Breakdowns will be more dynamic as well simply because those participating will have a better view given that they won't be laying all over each other in piles. :-)

  • larry
    6:38 PM 25/08/2016

    More points inflation? Keep the try at 5. I do like the 2 point penalty, and it's long overdue, but let's be fair and allow 3 for a dropped penalty goal attempt as opposed to 2 points for the easier placed kick. That would really bring about some interesting decisions by the captain: go for the easier 2 or the harder to make 3. Just from watching 7s it's obvious that a dropped kick isn't automatic in the least, as it has become somewhat for placed kicks. Regarding the ruck, there needs to be more counter-rucking. I don't see any value in watching games in which rucks are not contested by the team on defense, resulting in countless phases of rucks after rucks. Eventually there's a penalty for holding on, or for offside by the defense, or handling, or a knock on, and just maybe a player punches through or dodges a tackle and actually gains some ground, but there's just too many phases and not enough real open play in many games. Perhaps a law change is needed to encourage contested rucks, but I don't see that with these law changes necessarily. I would think that reverting back to not allowing the player in the halfback position to reach in, but wait for a ball to be heeled back or placed/pushed back, could indeed encourage more counter-rucking. If a player in the halfback position can't reach in, either the tackled player is going to release the ball sooner, perhaps before even being taken to the ground all the way, or if taken to the ground and then releasing, a real contest of defenders and offensive players using their feet to heel could commence, and perhaps the mid-field gets uncluttered because that "line of defenders" wouldn't get set up.

  • drg
    6:10 PM 25/08/2016

    Oh sorry, I was under the impression that if you went off your feet at the breakdown it was a penalty already... I guess not...


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