IRB Guide to Experimental Law Variations

(IRB.COM) Thursday 15 May 2008
 IRB Guide to Experimental Law Variations
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset

The global trial of the IRB Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) starts on August 1, 2008.

However, due to the fact that the southern hemisphere season commenced in February there are some southern tournaments that are trialling more than the 13 ELVs that have been approved for global trials from August 1.

Special dispensation has been given to the southern hemisphere Unions to continue the more extensive ELV trials that are already in place. These tournaments will come in line in with the global trial at the start of the next southern hemisphere season.

The IRB will convene a meeting with representatives from the IRB Law Project Group, Executive Committee and Union representatives in March 2009 to begin a full review of the ELV programme and to recommend to the IRB Rugby Committee which ELVs, if any, should be adopted into Law. The Rugby Committee will then report to the IRB Council and in July 2009 the IRB will determine one set of uniform Laws that will be played globally from August 2009 onwards.

**UPDATE -  Click here to download relevant sections of Rugby Ready for information on tackle, scrum, ruck, new maul laws and a whole host of other information. PDF format, 2MB.**

Full ELV guide (PDF)>>

Guide des Variantes expérimentales des Règles du Jeu (PDF)>>

Guía del IRB para las Variaciones experimentales a las Leyes del Juego (PDF)>>

La Guida IRB alle Regole sperimentali (PDF)>>

Руководство Международного совета регби по Экспериментальным изменениям правил (PDF)>>

則指南 (PDF)>>


Foreword by Bernard Lapasset, IRB Chairman

I welcomed the decision by the IRB Council in 2004 to review the Laws of the Game following recommendations that came out of the Conference on the Playing of the Game that was held in Auckland after Rugby World Cup 2003.

Subsequently, a lot of hard work has been undertaken by an IRB Laws Project Group which has studied a group of Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) with the assistance of a number of our Member Unions. This ongoing co-operation is much appreciated.

Following this unprecedented work, Council has now approved a global trial at all levels of the Game of certain Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) beginning on August 1, 2008. This decision to implement a global trial represents an important milestone for the future of the Game.

The trial will involve 13 ELVs that have been undergoing practical on field experimentation in approved tournaments around the world over the last two years. This guide introduces these 13 ELVs.

The Laws Project Group will closely monitor the global trial over the next 12 months with the assistance of Member Unions. Then, next year, Council will review all the ELVs that will have undergone trials before deciding if all or any of the ELVs should be accepted into full Law.

Bernard Lapasset
Chairman, International Rugby Board

Individual Experimental Law Variations

Click on the links below to see more detail, including video, on each of the ELVs.

Law 6 - Match Officials

1 Assistant referees are able to assist the referee in any way that the referee requires.

Law 17 - Maul

2 Remove reference to head and shoulders not being lower than hips.

3 Players are able to defend a maul by pulling it down.

Law 19 - Touch and Lineout

4 If a team puts the ball back into its own 22 and the ball is subsequently kicked directly into touch, there is no gain in ground.

5 A quick throw in may be thrown in straight or towards the throwing team’s own goal line.

6 There is no restriction on the number of players from either team who can participate in the lineout.

7 The receiver at the lineout must be 2 metres away from the lineout.

8 The player who is in opposition to the player throwing in the ball must stand in the area between the 5-metre line and the touch line but must be 2 metres away from the 5-metre line.

9 Lineout players may pre-grip a jumper before the ball is thrown in.

10 The lifting of lineout players is permitted.

Law 20 - Scrum

11 Introduction of an offside line 5 metres behind the hindmost feet of the scrum.

12 Identification of scrum half offside lines.

Law 22 – Corner Posts

13 The corner posts are no longer considered to be touch-in-goal except when the ball is grounded against the post.


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Laws Project Group: Bill Beaumont, Bruce Cook, Richie Dixon, Rod Macqueen, Ian McIntosh, Syd Millar, Mick Molloy, Graham Mourie, Bill Nolan, Paddy O’Brien, Pierre Villepreux

Resource editorial team: Steve Griffiths, Mark Harrington

Resource consultancy team: Jean-Luc Barthes, Bernd Gabbei, Keith Hole, Tom Jones, Douglas Langley, Clive Leeke, Mike Luke, Mike Miller, Lee Smith, Greg Thomas