World Rugby have announced that it will no longer be possible to score a try by grounding the ball against the post protector. The amendment to Law 8, which will be implemented with immediate effect, was approved by the World Rugby Council during its special meeting held via teleconference and follows a recommendation by the international federation’s rugby committee and specialist laws review group.
With defending players currently legally obliged to stay behind the goal-line and post protector shape and size increasing for welfare reasons, the governing body claimed it was becoming increasingly difficult for teams to legally defend this area.
In some extreme cases, post protectors had been lifted or moved by defending teams, leaving the posts exposed and therefore increasing the risk of injury. Last November, during a Guinness PRO14 match in Cork, Edinburgh’s Pierre Schoeman lifted the post protection about a metre above the ground when Munster approached the line with a series of pick-and-go drives.
The left players exposed to a potentially violent collision with the exposed goalpost. Schoeman wasn’t penalised for the incident but a number of coaches called for action about the rule in the aftermath.
The amended law will now read, “The post protector is no longer an extension of the goal-line and therefore Law 8.2 (a) will read: A try is scored when the attacking player is first to ground the ball in the opponents’ in-goal.”
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby’s mission is to make the game as simple, safe and enjoyable to play as possible. This law amendment reflects that mission.
“By stipulating that an attacking team can no longer score against the post protector and therefore must ground the ball in-goal, this gives defending teams a fair chance of preventing a try from being scored.”
Meanwhile, World Rugby will continue to evaluate ongoing closed law trials which have been implemented with enhancing player welfare in mind. They will resume when rugby resumes.
Initial feedback for the 50:22 and the below the waist tackle are said to be encouraging, with the latter resulting in a three-fold decrease in injuries and a 60 per cent reduction in concussion in the French community game.
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