1 Apr

ELVs to be sanctioned into law
by Tracey Nelson
1 Apr 2009

An International Rugby Board conference in London has reviewed the impact of the various experimental law variations (ELVs) being trialled around the world, and will recommend to the IRB’s Technical Committee Meeting on May 13 this year that ten ELVs be adopted into law.

The IRB conferencewas made up of60 representatives from the major fifteen unions, and a detailed review including game analysis and statistical surveys from over 800 games was carried out over two days. New Zealand was represented by Steve Tew, Neil Sorenson, Steve Hansen and Lyndon Bray (NZRU Referee Manager).

There are no major surprises in theten ELVs to be recommended, with laws such as the pass-back -which prevents ground from being made with a kick to touch if the ball has been passed back into the 22 – being an obvious favourite amongst all countries. Likewise the 5m offside line at the scrum was also unanimously recommended to go forward.

Two ELVs that won’t be recommended are the the variations allowing sacking (pulling down) of mauls, and the freedom for teams to choose how many players they put in a lineout. The sacking of mauls was a contentious ELV, with Ireland and Italy in particular voicing their dissatisfaction. Chris Cuthbertson, chair of the Rugby Football Union’s ELV Task group said: “The feedback from the Game and our game analysis indicates that pulling down the maul and unrestricted numbers in the line-out have not improved the game.”

Steve Hansen reported that while discussions had been “robust, with plenty of debate”, there was no suggestion of a Northern vs Southern Hemisphere split over the ELVs. Currently only the SANZAR compeitions (Super 14 and TriNations) are trialling the sanctions law at the breakdown, where free kicks rather than penalties are awarded for all but off-side offences. This ELV has been reccommended for further investigation and review.

Unfortunately the ELV sanctions have done nothing to tidy up the breakdown, and the IRB will be looking at the laws surrounding the breakdown areas of tackles, rucks and mauls. Confusion and lack of consistency with rulings at the breakdown have led to less attacking play and an increase in kicking as teams have become more hesistant at taking the ball into contact.

The IRB’s rugby committee will finalise their list of recommendations at a meeting in Dublin on 27 April before they go before the full IRB council meeting on 13 May.

The following ELVs will be recommended to be passed into law:

Law 6 – Assistant referees allowed
Law 19 – Kicking directly into touch from ball played back into
22 equals no gain in ground
Law 19 – Quick throw permitted in any direction except forward
Law 19 – Positioning of player in opposition to the player
throwing-in to be two metres away from line-out and the line of
Law 19 – Pre-gripping of line-out jumpers allowed
Law 19 – Lifting in the line-out allowed
Law 19 – Positioning of receiver must be two metres away from
Law 20 – Five-metre offside line at the scrum
Law 20 – Scrum-half offside line at the scrum
Law 22 – Corner posts no longer touch in goal

The ELVs not recommended are:

Law 17 – Maul, head and shoulders not to be lower than hips
Law 17 – Maul, pulling down the maul
Law 19 – Freedom for each team to determine line-out numbers

The ELVs still under review are:

Sanctions and free-kicks at the breakdown

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