By Nigel Scott
This season World Rugby are trialling two variations to the Laws of the Game which you will see when watching at Esher – the 50:22 kick and the goal-line dropout. Both of these amendments are designed to increase "ball-in-play" time and so make the game more attractive.
The 50:22 kick rewards a team who can find space behind their opponents and should force the defending team to defend in more depth than they might normally have done, thus giving more space for the attacking team. If a team kicks the ball from its own half and the ball bounces into touch in the opposition 22-metre area without being touched, then the attacking side gets the put-in at the subsequent line-out.
The goal-line dropout is intended to reduce the number of 5-metre scrums and to encourage counterattacking. It happens when in the in-goal area, either an attacking player is held up, there is an attacking knock-on, or an attacking kick is grounded by the defensive side. The dropout is taken from anywhere on the goal-line and must go at least 5 metres.
There are other technical changes, firstly contact with the lower limbs of a jackal (someone attempting a turnover at a tackle) is banned, this recalls the incident in the Lions v Japan match which nearly saw Alan Wyn Jones miss the Tour. Secondly pre-bound pods of players, normally from a tap penalty, is banned and thirdly a player latching on to another player at a ruck has the same responsibility as the first player to enter through the gate and to remain on his feet.
If you have been watching the matches in Australia you may have seen some of these being applied.
Any questions? Ask a referee!