World Rugby have announced a series of new laws, including a new scoring system, to be trialled across a number of competitions in 2016.

Those that are successful will then move onto a far more extensive global trial in 2017, starting in January of that year in the Southern Hemisphere and August in the Northern Hemisphere. No new law will be introduced into the game until at least 2018.

A look at all the new laws to be trailed:


In order to encourage teams to attempt to score more tries, a new scoring system is suggested:

  • A try to be worth 6 points
  • A conversion, penalty and drop goal to be worth 2 points
  • A penalty try to be worth 8 points, with no conversion necessary

Two on-field referees

There will be two referees policing the game at all times. The second on-field referee will be used primarily to police the offside line

Scrum formation

The ‘crouch’ will now see both front rows lean in and go shoulder to shoulder with their opponents. On ‘bind’, the props position their arms in the correct position as per the current laws, with the players behind them also tightening their binds.

The ball will then be fed into the scrum “without delay,” as per the below.

Scrum feed

The scrum-half feeding the scrum must put the ball in straight, but can align his outside shoulder with the middle line of the scrum, leaving him a shoulder width towards his own side.

The hooker will be allowed to give his scrum-half a signal that he is ready for the feed.

Scrum wheel

If a scrum is deemed to have been wheeled, the referee sets a new scrum at the place where the previous scrum ended, with team who previously fed the scrum doing so again.

Front row subs

If a team cannot provide enough specialist front row forwards – due to injuries or a card – the match continues with uncontested scrums, with that team playing with 14 men. Each team must have 8 players in the scrum, though, leaving that team 1 player short in the backline.


A maul must move forward within 5 seconds after it was first set up. If that doesn’t happen and the referee can see the ball, he tells the attacking team to use it. If they don’t do so within a “reasonable time” a scrum is ordered.

From ruck to breakdown

The word ‘ruck’ to be replaced by ‘breakdown’, which will be formed when just one attacking player is over the ball while on the ground. Once a breakdown is formed, no player will be able to play the ball with their hands.

Off-side line

The off-side line to be moved one metre back from the breakdown.

Removal of “The gate”

The tackler no longer has 360 degree rights to the ball, instead he and the arriving players will be able to enter the breakdown from any angle – as long as they have come from an onside position.

Botched kick-offs and restarts

The team receiving a kick attempt will be awarded a free-kick in the middle of the pitch whenever the opposition sends their restart directly into touch, into the in-goal area, or less than the required 10 metres. There will be no scrum option for that free-kick, so expect teams to quick-tap and run.


Whenever a defending team commits multiple penalty offences in the same passage of play, the attacking team’s captain will be able to decide which of them to go back to once play is stopped.

Final whistle

If time has expired and the referee awards a mark, free-kick or penalty, play continues. And if a team kicks a penalty into touch, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play goes on until the ball next becomes dead.

The five-metre drop out

If an attacking player commits any action in the in-goal area that would have seen a scrum awarded anywhere else out the field, and the ball then goes dead or a defender makes it dead, play can be restarted by the defending team with either a five-metre scrum or a five-metre line drop out. That drop out can be taken anywhere along the five-metre line and will be treated exactly as a 22 drop out is, so all the kicking players’ teammates must be behind him.


If a player is juggling the ball in an attempt to gather it and steps into touch, even with the ball actually not in their hands, it’s a lineout which the opposition feeds.

A player may jump from the playing area and return the ball to play in the air after it has reached or gone beyond the plane of touch, provided that they do so before they land in touch themselves.

A player who is standing in touch and catches or picks up the ball before it has reached the plane of touch or beyond is deemed to have carried the ball into touch. Lineout to the other team.

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