Law changes - 1 July 2024

On 9 May 2024, World Rugby Council agreed to law changes in three areas covering: 

  • Offside in front of a kicker
  • Eliminating the crocodile roll
  • Removing the scrum option when a Free Kick is awarded

The following are the areas of law with the new law wording. They come into effect on 1 July 2024. From that date, they will be reflected in World Rugby's digital law content.

 

Offside in front of a kicker

Rationale: Teams and players have recognised that in a kick battle with opponents, the kicking team - providing they are more than 10m away from the ball alighting - can be put onside by the actions of the catcher who runs 5m, passes or kicks.  

This has created freedom for players to loiter in the middle and wait for a kick tennis battle to conclude. 

The new wording makes clear that any player who is offside in open play needs to take action to put themselves onside and not just remain stationary. The clauses relating to the catcher running 5m and passing the ball to put an opponent onside, will be removed. 

 

Law 10 - Offside and onside in open play

10.1:  A player is offside in open play if that player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball or who last played it. An offside player must not interfere with play. This includes:
a. Playing the ball.
b. Tackling the ball-carrier.
c. Preventing the opposition from playing as they wish.
d. Loitering in an offside position 

10.4: An offside player may be penalised, if that player:

a. Does not make an effort to retreat and interferes with play; or
b. Moves forwards towards the ball; or
c. [unchanged]

10.7 Other than under Law 10.4c, an offside player can be put onside when:
a. An onside team-mate of that player moves past the offside player and is within or has re-entered the playing area.
b. An opponent of that player:
i. Carries the ball five metres; or
ii. Passes the ball; or    
i. Kicks the ball; or 
ii. Intentionally touches the ball without gaining possession of it.

New definition: 

Loiter/Loitering: A player who remains in an offside position is loitering. A loiterer who prevents the opposing team from playing the ball as they wish is taking part in the game, and is liable to sanction. A loiterer must not benefit from being put onside by the opposing team’s action.

 

Crocodile roll

Rationale: Player safety. While low in number, these actions continue to cause long-term injuries in many players. The Shape of Game meeting showed clear support for removing the specific action in law. 

 

Law 9.20d

Replace:  A player may lever the jackler out of the contest at the ruck but must not drop their weight onto them or target the lower limbs.

with:

A player may remove the jackler from the tackle area by pushing/driving them backwards (including by grabbing the knee/leg), but must not roll, pull or twist an opponent.  (Sanction: Penalty)

New 9.20e

A player must not drop their weight onto an opponent or target the lower limbs. (Sanction: Penalty)

New clause in 14.8 (Tackle Law). Other players must:

e: Not roll, pull or twist an opponent, who is involved in the tackle, to the ground

New definition: 

Crocodile roll: A prohibited action where a player laterally rolls/twists or pulls a player, who is on their feet in the tackle area, to ground. The action often lands on the player’s lower limbs


Scrum option removal at a FK

Rationale: Speeding up restarts after technical offences. Currently many scrums result in long periods of dead time with resets, leading to more FKs, penalties and then kicks to touch. Shape of Game recommendation was to remove the scrum from a FK option. It remains an option for penalty offences. 

Law 20: Options at a penalty or free-kick

20.3 A team awarded a penalty or a free kick may instead choose a scrum.

20.4 i. A team awarded a penalty or free-kick at a lineout may instead choose a lineout or a scrum at the same mark.
ii. A team awarded a free-kick at a lineout may instead choose a lineout at the same mark.

Scrum options table in Law 19.1 (row 4) would also be amended “Scrum option from a FK/Penalty"

Consequential change: Law 17: Mark
17.6 If the player is injured in the act of claiming a Mark, and is unable to take the free-kick within one minute, a scrum is awarded to the team in possession. a team-mate may take the FK