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Law Changes for the 2013 Season

December 13, 2012

2012 isn’t the only thing that will be ending December 31st. Several laws (or “rules”) have been amended or changed by the IRB… and if you’ve been watching any international rugby since August 1st, you have probably seen some or all of them in action.

To keep everyone up to date and allow the new law amendments a chance to sink in (yes, even through thick, front-row skulls), I figured I would write a quick post that covers these changes. FORWARDS… pay attention… there is a scrum-related change at the end of this post, so pay attention.

1. Law 16.7 (Ruck): Once a the ball reaches the back of the ruck and is available for the scrum-half to play, the ref can/will say “Use It”. The scrum half has 5 seconds to use the ball, or the ref will blow play dead.
Sanction – Scrum, turnover.

In practice, this means that the 9 can no longer sit with the ball at the back of the breakdown, camping out. This was a delaying tactic, often seen within the last 2-3 minutes of close games, as a way to run out the clock. It also serves to move the game along and keep play flowing. Much like a maul that stops moving… failing to play the ball once the ref warns you will result in a scrum, with the other team putting the ball in.

2. Law 19.2 (b) (Lineout: Quick Throw-In): When taking a quick throw-in (before the lineout is formed), the player throwing the ball in can be anywhere between the mark (where the ball went into touch) and his own goal line.

So, if the ball crosses the sideline at mid-field and a winger gets it around his own 22, he can take a quick throw at the 22, and no longer has to bring the ball back to the mark at midfield. HOWEVER… if the lineout is formed at the 50 (with 2 players present), then a quick lineout cannot be taken. Therefore… run (don’t walk) to the lineout!

3. Law 19.4 (Lineout: Who throws in): The Blue team is in possession, then knocks the ball on and the ball crosses into touch. The Red team has the OPTION of a scrum at the point of the knock-on, or a Lineout where the ball crossed the line. And yes…. this lineout CAN be taken quickly.

The “old” version of the law required that a scrum be the only option… the change here is that the non-offending team has the option of scrum or lineout. Nothing too complicated here.

4. Law21.4 Penalty and free kick options and requirements: Lineout alternative: When a Penalty or Free Kick is awarded during a lineout, the non-offending team can now choose to have another lineout (with them throwing in), in addition to the scrum option.

Currently, when a team is awarded a Penalty or Free Kick in a lineout, they have two options:  1 – take the penalty/free kick, or they can 2 – ask for a scrum. The change here is that now there is a 3rd option…. take a lineout with themselves throwing in. Again, pretty straight forward.

5. Time Available for Conversion: A Conversion Kick must take place with one minute and 30 seconds of a try being awarded (total of 90 seconds). There does not appear to be any allowance for the kicker looking for a kicking tee…. just a straight up, 90 second limit.


I want to take this opportunity to thank the props and locks for paying attention this far… here’s that scrummage change I promised you:


6. Scrum Count (Cadence): The ref will call “Crouch” and “Touch”, much the same as before. However, “Pause” and “Engage” are gone. Instead, the ref will leave a “quiet” space following the “Touch”, and, once he’s convince that the front rows are ready, he will call “Set”. The packs are now clear to engage.

In other words… the scrum cadence is now: “Crouch”——“Touch”—– “SET!”

The word “set” is short and sharp…. whereas “engage” could be drawn out to be “engaaaaage”. Too often one pack would try and jump the gun, going on the “en-” while the other pack was going on the “-gage”. Now, everyone will join on the “s” of  “set”….. effectively the first sound the ref makes after saying “Touch”.


Well, that’s all for now… and quite enough, if you ask me. See you all at the Christmas Drink on December 20th… check the calendar for location and details.


Have a very merry Christmas and a happy and safe holiday season!


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