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World Rugby introduces law variations with PRO14 Rainbow Cup looming large

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin has said the organisation applauds PRO14 Rugby and the respective clubs for their enthusiasm to trial a number of law variations in the Rainbow Cup.
World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin has said the organisation applauds PRO14 Rugby and the respective clubs for their enthusiasm to trial a number of law variations in the Rainbow Cup.
Image: REUTERS/Matthew Childs

In perhaps the clearest indication that the PRO14 Rainbow Cup is upon us‚ three law variations have been approved by World Rugby for use in the competition.

The game's governing body announced the introduction of red card replacements‚ a captain’s challenge and goal-line drop-outs for the competition that is set to kick off next week.

As a result of restrictions that are in place because of the pandemic the competition's initial rounds will feature derby matches.

Confirmation of the planned matches for rounds four to six will follow once PRO14 Rugby has received all necessary approvals and permissions from the relevant governments and health authorities for the South African teams to travel.

The rugby viewing public have already had a taste of the new law variations‚ they were already in use across Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU.

Alan Gilpin‚ CEO of World Rugby‚ said: “We applaud PRO14 Rugby and the respective clubs for their enthusiasm to trial a number of law variations in the Rainbow Cup.

“The addition of another top competition to the World Rugby law trials programme will provide invaluable data and feedback to determine future advances to game spectacle and player welfare.”

Under the law variation‚ a player who has been red carded can be replaced after 20 minutes‚ the offending player can be replaced with one of the nominated substitutes and will not be permitted to return to the pitch.

It was felt too many matches are currently negatively impacted by the increasing number of red cards in the game.

There is a high incidence of red cards as a result of the greater accent on player safety often the issue of a red card kills the contest.

Just like the awarding of a yellow card‚ the 20 minutes will be measured in ‘game time’ meaning the clock will not run during stoppages in play.

The red card replacement law will also apply to players who receive two yellow cards (which results in an automatic red).

Players who have been substituted for tactical reasons may be used to replace a player who has received a red card.

The usual replacement laws continue to apply in that a replaced player may return for an injured front rower‚ injury due to foul play‚ head injury assessment (HIA) or blood.

The Captain’s Challenge is aimed at enhancing the accuracy of decisions already under the remit of the match officials.

Each team is allowed one captain’s challenge in the match.

These can be used for try-scoring and foul play incidents‚ or to challenge any refereeing decision in the last five minutes of a match.

The challenge will be referred to the TMO who will review the footage with the match referee making the final decision.

If a challenge is successful‚ then the team keeps their challenge but if it is unsuccessful then the team loses the challenge.

Challenges can only be made up to 20 seconds after the referee has blown his whistle for a stoppage in play and only incidents from the last passage of play can be challenged.

Prior to the 75-minute mark‚ the challenge can only be used to check for an infringement in the lead up to a try or to review foul play.

The Captain’s Challenge will be applied more broadly from the 75-minute mark in any match at which point the captain‚ provided they have not already lost their challenge‚ can use it to check any whistled decision regardless of whether a try has been scored.

Injury time is included in the post 75-minute period.

Goal-line drop-outs will apply when the ball has been held-up over the line‚ for knock-ons in goal or when the ball is grounded by a defending player in the in-goal area after a kick through.

The defending team will take a drop-out from anywhere on the goal line.

The drop-out must be taken on or behind the defending team’s goal line and it must occur without delay.

The ball must cut across the goal line and travel 5 metres.

If this does not occur a sanction will apply‚ and the non-kicking team may request the kick to be retaken or receive a 5m scrum in line with where the kick was taken.


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