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New Zealand Rugby to trial radical new laws affecting scrums, high balls

By Online Editors
(Photo by Raghavan Venugopal/Photosport)

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A host of amateur competitions will trial a new set of laws throughout New Zealand in 2022, with the focus falling on making the game both safer and a better spectacle.


The ‘Experimental Domestic Safety Law Variations’ (EDSLVs) will be rolled out in school and club rugby next season, with different tweaks made at the different levels of the game.

Eight of the fifteen approved EDSLVs will be rolled out nationally across Small Blacks, teenage rugby and senior club rugby; with the other seven being trialled in selected competitions, in consultation with New Zealand’s provincial unions.

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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eye over all the action from the past weekend of rugby.
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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eye over all the action from the past weekend of rugby.

National changes include reducing tackle height, enhancing breakdowns and scrums, and ensuring players remain grounded whilst contesting high balls, in a bid to reduce aerial collisions.

Tackles will be limited to below the sternum across the amateur level in NZ, but some competitions will restrict height further by trialling waist-high tackles.

Following a reset scrum, the team feeding the ball will be given the option of an uncontested scrum, to quicken up the contest (provided that neither team’s infringement caused the reset) while in senior club rugby, scrums will be allowed to move only 1.5 metres forward before the feeding team is awarded a free kick.

A full breakdown of the law variations can be found on the New Zealand Rugby website.


Former All Blacks head coach Wayne Smith who contributed to the development of several of the EDSLVs, said NZR’s appetite to experiment with changes to improve the game and influence global thinking was really exciting.

“The secret to New Zealand’s style of play has always been centred around innovation, imagination and flair. These law variations once again demonstrate New Zealand Rugby’s determination to be world-leading in their approach, while keeping player safety and appeal at the heart of the game.

“As a coach, we know the safest way to play is also the most effective way, so introducing these law variations next year will be a great opportunity for our coaches at all levels to positively influence the safety of the game, and an enhanced rugby experience for our players.”

Lancaster said NZR was taking a leap and learn approach to improving participation, and the EDSLVs being trialled demonstrated NZR’s commitment to Sport New Zealand’s Balance is Better philosophy, and Rugby’s focus on player safety through their RugbySmart partnership with ACC.


Provincial Unions are set to introduce the new developments into school and club rugby from 1 January 2022. Any future application of the EDSLVs will be determined following a review at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

– with New Zealand Rugby


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