Law Trials are applicable in Otago Premier Rugby

As part of a law review conducted by World Rugby in 2015, there are several competitions in New Zealand which have been selected to trial new laws in 2016. These are the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, Mitre 10 Cup and the Jock Hobbs Memorial U19 National Tournament. Provincial Unions were also given the option to trial some or all of the variations, which Otago Rugby has chosen to accept.

In 2016, the Otago Premier competition will be played with variations to Laws 15 and 16 around the tackle and breakdown areas.

In order to make the tackle contact area safer for players, easier for spectators to understand and to ensure that the game moves with the times there’s been some subtle changes to what players can do when they arrive at a tackle and where they’re allowed to come from if they choose to contest for possession.

  1. There’s no longer “a gate” at the tackle. Now players have to enter from behind their tackle mid point.
  2. There’s been a change in name from a ruck to a breakdown. This is because there no longer needs to be one player from each team over the ball on the ground. All it takes to create a breakdown is one attacking support player standing his team mate on the ground. When that occurs, offside lines appear.
  3. The major changes to the breakdown that people should see is body height, positioning and arrival. The overall body height of breakdowns should rise because no one is allowed to have their hands, arms, elbows or heads on the ground, when contesting or securing the ball, nor are they allowed to lean on any ball carrier or tackler already on the ground.
  4. The other major change occurs to the very first defender that arrives at a tackle but before a breakdown is formed. Previously, this player was permitted to attack the ball and continue to stay in the contest, even after a ruck has formed over the top of him. Now, if he hasn’t won clear possession (in other words clearly picked the ball up off the ground) then he is liable to be penalised.