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New Law Changes in World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy

Samoa Under 20 in New Zealand - Photo: World Rugby
Samoa Under 20 in New ZealandSamoa Under 20 in New Zealand

The next generation of rugby talent will be instrumental in trialing groundbreaking law changes as the World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy commence in Cape Town and Edinburgh. Among the new measures, a simplified red card sanction process will be introduced, allowing a player who receives a red card to be replaced after 20 minutes, though the red-carded player cannot return to the field. This change aims to maintain team competitiveness while ensuring that serious foul play is adequately sanctioned. Additionally, revised time limits for set pieces and conversions are being tested to increase the speed of the game and keep the ball in play longer, enhancing the overall excitement for fans and players alike.

Player welfare remains a top priority with the introduction of smart mouth guards in the U20 Championship. These innovative devices will monitor head impacts in real-time, sending alerts to pitch-side doctors if a player experiences significant head acceleration. This immediate feedback allows for quick medical assessments, ensuring that players who suffer potential concussions are promptly examined, even if they show no initial symptoms. By collecting data on all contact events, these smart mouthguards will contribute to a deeper understanding of the physical demands and risks associated with elite-level rugby, ultimately helping to shape safer playing conditions.

The revised TMO protocol trial represents another significant evolution in rugby's officiating. The TMO will now have the authority to identify clear and obvious infringements during the final attacking phases, such as knock-ons, forward passes, and players being in touch, thereby ensuring greater accuracy in critical moments of the game. This expanded scope of review is designed to maintain the integrity of the sport by preventing game-changing errors. Moreover, allowing any member of the officiating team to refer incidents to the TMO promotes a collaborative approach to match officiating, ensuring that the right decisions are made swiftly and accurately, thus upholding the fairness and competitiveness of the game.

Global Law Amendments (Effective from 1 July):

  • Offside from Kicks: Players are offside when an opponent catches the ball and runs five meters or passes it. Offside players must attempt to retreat to be put back onside.

  • Free-Kicks: Teams cannot take a scrum from a free-kick; they must tap or kick to encourage more ball flow.

  • Crocodile Roll: Players cannot roll and twist another player in the tackle area, sanctioned by a penalty.

Closed Law Trials:

  • Red Card Replacement: A player receiving a red card can be replaced after 20 minutes, but cannot return. Automatic off-field sanctions apply unless deemed serious foul play.

  • Set Piece Timings: Teams have 30 seconds to set scrum/lineout and 60 seconds for conversions.

  • Scrum-Half Offside Line: The offside line for the non-putting in scrum-half is the middle of the tunnel.

  • Mark Inside 22m: Teams can mark the ball inside the 22m area from a restart.

  • Maul Play: Teams must play the ball after the maul is stopped once, not twice.

  • Uncontested Lineout: If a lineout is not straight but uncontested, play will continue.

Revised TMO Process:

  • Expanded TMO Authority: The TMO can identify clear infringements in the final attacking passage of play and within the final two phases, including offside, maul obstruction, and tackle completion.

  • Referral Scope: Any match official can refer to the TMO.

Player Welfare Initiative:

  • Smart Mouthguards: Used in the U20 Championship to monitor head impacts in real-time and send alerts to pitch-side doctors for immediate assessment, ensuring prompt medical attention for potential concussions.


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