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.