BBC Home

Explore the BBC

Browse: Rugby union


user rating: not rated yet

Rugby Union's new Stellenbosch Laws

by Stonethecrows (U2821163) 22 October 2007
comment on the article

I note with some interest that all or part of the new Stellenbosch laws are likely to be introduced in 2008.

What does everyone think? Will it produce a more flowing type of rugby?

Feedback, after initial trial, has apparently suggested that the ball spends more time in play, thus producing a faster game. Fewer penalties resulting in kicks at goals were given and there were less kicks into touch “on the full” from inside the defending teams 22.

Here’s the list of proposals.

• In the original version of the laws, players were allowed to use their hands at all times at the breakdown. A slightly different rule, prohibiting hands in the ruck but making it only a short-arm penalty, has been trialed as well. The final rule regarding hands in the ruck has not been established. In any event, players must come into the breakdown in an onside position, and only players who are on their feet are allowed to play the ball. The side that takes the ball into the breakdown and will not release it is penalised.
• At the scrum, all backs except for the two scrum-halves must be at least 5 metres behind the hindmost foot of the scrum, instead of level with it as allowed in the current laws.
• Either side can use as many players as they like in the lineout, at any time, providing they fit inside the 15-metre line.
• The opposing hooker in a lineout no longer has to stand between the 5-metre line and touchline; he can stand anywhere he wishes as long as he conforms to the laws.
• On a quick throw in the ball can be thrown straight or back towards the defenders goal line, but not forward towards the opposition goal line.
• Touch judges are to become "flag referees" with a primary responsibility of policing the offside lines.
• Long-arm penalties are to be given only for offside and foul play. All other penalties are short-arm penalties (free kicks, with the option of taking a scrum as in the current laws).
• If the ball is passed or run back into the 22 and then kicked out on the full before a tackle, ruck or maul, the lineout is taken from where the kick was made. However, if the kick bounces into touch, the lineout is taken from where the ball went into touch, as in the present laws.
• The maul can be collapsed by defending sides without incurring a penalty.
• The corner flag, currently situated where the try line meets the touchline, will be removed. Under the current laws, a try is disallowed if a player touches the corner flag while attempting to touch the ball down, even if his body and the ball are not in touch.

Latest 10 comments

Read members' comments or add your own

posted Oct 22, 2007

I think some are good some are bad, same as always. I don't like the fact that mauls will become completely obsolete as they will be brought down every time. Would have made more sense to say you can only bring a maul down when the attacking team is in your 22 metre zone.

Hands in the ruck should be extremely limited as otherwise driving the ball on will be useless and you will get a league type game where the ball never goes to ground. Makes the game faster but takes away a large part of the game in which players need good contact skills.

Of course these types of rules suit the SH type of play more than the NH, which is sad for the NH teams.

Let’s hope the IRB come to their senses and only adopt some of these rules when they are proven to make the game better. For me better does not necessarily mean faster.

add comment | complain about this comment

comment by Pommy (U2963665)

posted Oct 22, 2007

This is a really interesting question which the New Zealand media are arrogantly saying will 'save the game' and prevent a repeat of a 'tragic' and 'closed game' final that had no tries or style. The belief is that The Stellenbosch rule changes will increase the speed and flow of the game.

I am concerned that we are seeing the demise of the 'clever' game - where the scope to score points by whatever legal means is going to be reduced to the lowest common denominator, to satisfy the simple and unsophisticated tastes of those who believe rugby is only about marketing myths, tries and fancy footwork.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

As far as I'm concerned, if there's a rule that nullifies the truck and trailer, then I'll be all for it.

As a footnote I asked the question in my original post if there was anyone who though there may be some kind of Southern Hemisphere conspiracy. I deleted it as I didnt want to lead other posters onto that subject.

Only 2 posts in and its already come up!!

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

"Hands in the ruck should be extremely limited as otherwise driving the ball on will be useless and you will get a league type game where the ball never goes to ground. Makes the game faster but takes away a large part of the game in which players need good contact skills."

Add to this you will rarely get a player attacking the line on their own as they will lose the ball straight away so it will become "everthing in 2's and 3's".

Of course I will reserve my final decision as to whether they are good for the game or not, when I see them in action. Is the super 14 using them first?

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

I certainly don't think it is "a conspiracy", you are putting words in my mouth. I said it suits the SH style of play better than the NH, is that not true? So my point is that I like the fact there are different styles of play in RU. When the whole world is forced to play like the SH it will be a sad day indeed for world rugby.

I like the "clashing of styles" that we have now.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

comment by mcrjfNo7

you are putting words in my mouth.

Apologies. That wasnt my intention!

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

The worrying thing is these rules seem to be trialed for 'entertainment' value rather than enhancement of the game.

I do like the idea of a defensive line 5 metres behind ruck and maul - but personally I'd also like to add that you should join from you 'own side' rather than behind the back foot. otherwise we are still in the position of teams needing to committ 'enough' players to 'secure' the ball - leaving the midfield cloggeed up with defending players, rather than more players needed to win the ball. - Making the area more competative and reducing the forwards clogging up the midfield. (Less need for kicking).

Tackled players are either allowed to hold onto the ball unless isolated OR they must release it immidiately (As defined in a normal dictionary). Whichever rule is agreed it should be the same for both teams. No more watching a tackled player hold on for up to five seconds until his support arrives and the ref shout 'hands out'. Whilst another is penalised the moment he hits the ground.

Tactical substitutions to be banned.

add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

Interesting proposals.

I like the idea of putting people further behind the scrums and the lineout numbers/hooker position one is interesting. I don't know how that will work out, but I like the idea of it. It adds a new dimension to lineout play, i.e. do you add more people to secure/steal the ball, but risk being men down in attack/defence?

I like mauls, though. Perhaps tweaking them slightly (going backwards for more than a certain distance or if the defending team stops the advance once then the maul is over, for example) would be better.

I definitely like the quick throw idea. Quick throws are good for a quick game, after all.

What would constitute "foul play" in these rules? How much 'killing the ball' (handling when not on feet after quick break, preventing quick ball, for example) is allowed before it becomes a kickable penalty? Depowering the penalties may make for a slower, less attacking game if there's little penalty for breaking these laws.

I like the kicking from the 22 idea, as well. Kicking out on the full should only be allowed when under extreme pressure (when you're on your line).

"Tactical substitutions to be banned"


add comment | complain about this comment

posted Oct 22, 2007

Someone came up with the idea on another post to allow players to call a mark anywhere in their own half, thus avoiding much of the arial ping pong that is going on - I don't know why this hasn't been tried. I would also add to this by allowing the free kick that follows to be kicked straight into touch.

add comment | complain about this comment

comment by Big (U1023476)

posted Oct 24, 2007

The main problem with the proposals is that they are trying to change the way that teams attack, not shift the focus from defence. E.g. only having penalties for foul play (I assume you mean dangerous) and offsides, means that teams may have to put more focus on tries but that the opposition will just kill the ball more at the breakdown.

I'm sure I read a few years back that trials have already shown that the most effective way to stop the kicking game and encourage open play is to increase the points for penalties such that commiting a foul is no longer worthwhile. Keep in mind that penalties are not won by the attack, but commited by the defence. They won't commit them if they consider it better to concede a try than kill the game and be penalised - and if teams stop killing the ball the game opens up anyway.

add comment | complain about this comment

Comment on this article

Sorry, you can only contribute to 606 during opening hours. These are 0900-2300 UK time, seven days a week, but may vary to accommodate sporting events and UK public holidays.


Rate Breakdown

  • 5
    0 votes
  • 4
    0 votes
  • 3
    0 votes
  • 2
    0 votes
  • 1
    0 votes

average rating:
0 from 0 votes