World Rugby have made an immediate change to the laws of the game. The change stipulates that a match which has been paused to allow for a player to leave the field due to an HIA or a blood bin cannot resume until that player has been replaced.
The amendment has arisen due to the events during last weekend’s match between Wales and England in Cardiff. Wales scored their only try of the match on 32 minutes when England had just 13 men on the pitch.
One of those absences was due to Anothony Watson’s sin-binning, but Willi Heinz was also being escorted from the field for an HIA at the time. From the penalty which saw Watson ejected, Wales took a quick tap and moments later George North crossed for the try.
The score drew plenty of outrage both during and after the match, which Wales won 13-6. Ben Youngs, who was waiting on the sideline to replace Heinz, was as surprised as any fans that the game was resumed as quickly as it was.
“Being down to 13 men is never ideal. Anthony came off and then the boys are in a huddle. Then Willi has come off and I’m waiting to be given the green light to go on,” Youngs said.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 18, 2019
“Before I know it, Wales are off. It’s happened here and I dare say something like that will not happen again. It’s one of those things. There’s nothing as players that you can do about that except take the one lesson which is don’t switch off when there’s a penalty.”
The referee always had the discretion when to pause and resume matches but World Rugby has now seen fit to take some of that power away from the man in the middle.
It comes too late for beaten England – but it means that the same antics won’t occur at the World Cup which kick-offs next month.
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