Refereeing the Game Innovations

Reduced Tackle Height

WHAT: The tackle height (below the sternum. i.e., the tummy region) applies to the first tackler any subsequent tackler is bound by current world rugby height (below the shoulder). 

WHY: To ensure safer tackles for all, a reduction in the likelihood of head impacts, allowing for more offloads and a faster game. By lowering the tackle height, the tackler can get the ball carrier to the ground faster and create more opportunities to contest the ball at the tackle. The opportunity to turn over the ball creates more opportunities for a defensive team to transition defence into attack. 

WHO: All Community Rugby grades

HOW: The Law recognises the dynamics of the tackle where the ball carrier is not always upright. 

The Referee decision framework on tackle execution will concentrate on just two things:

  • The height of the initial contact point on the tackler, and
  • any contact with the head post contact.  

If there is contact with the head, then the World Rugby Head Contact Protocol would apply.  Current Law includes the concept of “mitigation” and “clear and obvious”.  

Where the ball carrier lowers their torso into the tackler and foreshortens the tackle zone available to a front-on tackler, or significantly lowers their centre of gravity to change direction, the ball carrier is deemed to have significantly lowered their body height. The requirement on the tackler is then to use the correct tackle technique to complete the tackle.  

Learn more about refereeing the new tackle height

Offside at Scrum

WHAT: The halfback of the team not in possession must remain 1 metre from the scrum and may not advance past the tunnel until the scrum has ended. If they opt to stay in a position in front of their Number-8's feet, they must stay within 1m of the scrum.

WHY: To encourage positive play by providing quicker cleaner ball. With the removal of the “disruptor” role of the defensive halfback, there is also a reduction in the number of scrums resulting from handling errors at the base of the scrum. 

WHO: All Community Rugby grades

HOW: Referees need to be vigilant to ensure defensive flankers are not getting off the scrum early or slipping their binds to gain a defensive advantage. 

Scrum 1.5m Push

WHAT: The maximum push of any scrum is limited to 1.5 metres unless the scrum is within 5 metres of the goal line. A restriction of 1.5m push does not depower the scrum but does encourage teams in possession to play the ball more quickly and discourage them from holding the ball in to draw penalties. 
Please note: Small Blacks rugby at U12 and U13s is already limited to a maximum 0.5 metre scrum push and teenage rugby is already limited to a maximum 1.5 metre scrum push.

WHY:  To improve scrum stability – especially where there is a significant imbalance between opposing scrums, reduce the risk of injury, to get the ball back in play more quickly and to reduce the ability to scrum for penalties.

WHO: All senior grades designated as non-Premier). This Law is already in place for all levels of teenage rugby.

HOW: Call HOLD or STOP at when the Scrum has moved 1m (to factor in the delay between the call and the player action.) Referees should also call “play the ball” when the ball reaches the No.8’s feet. Referees have a few options to manage the scrum under current law to control scrums and minimise opportunities to scrum for penalties. These include managing the binding of players, working with the front rows during the setup phase of the scrum and managing offsides at the scrum prior to setup. 

A dominant scrum should be rewarded with possession – not penalties against the opposition scrum.