New Simplified Rugby Union Rule Book: 2018 Version

New Simplified Rugby Union Rule Book: 2018 Version
BEZIERS - DECEMBER 8: Allan Lewis, the referee explains some of the replacememt rules to his assistant officials during the Heineken Cup match between Beziers and Leicester Tigers at Stade de la Mediterranee, Beziers, France on December 8, 2002. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Changes to the Rugby Union Rule Book will be introduced globally on 1 January, after it received approval at the World Rugby Council this week.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper has championed the reduced edition, which will be the ‘2018 version’ of a charter that has been standing since 1870.

New Simplified Rugby Union Rule Book: Version 2018

While the first rugby laws were standardised in 1870, the framework has been an evolution. Added to, specified and elaborated on, it is today a complex set of rules. The new simplified rugby union rule book is the product of nearly two years’ work by a specially constituted group of experts.

The announcement this week follows a comprehensive consultation and feedback process with World Rugby’s 121 member unions and all six regional associations. More logically laid out, clearer in its explanations to suit the 21st century. But also to aid both rule enforcer (referees and administrators) as much as players and the lay person; the fan.

The field of play will still be the same, the ball will not change. The players uniform, the instructions for both captains will still be to direct their players to compete in a fair contest–but one that has meaning each understands more easily.

In Consultation with Rugby Union Partners

With groups working on the process for two years, all rugby union partners had input in the 2018 version. Under their agreement, various repetitions and contradictions have been removed, that the rugby union rule book on January 1 will be 42 per cent shorter than the current version.

In a World Rugby media release, Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “As our game continues to grow around the world, we continue to strive to make the sport as accessible to all. The laws can be difficult to understand for new participants and fans.

“The new law book goes a long way towards simplifying it and making it easier to understand for players, coaches, referees and the viewing public.”

“This has been a truly collaborative effort with every union given the opportunity to contribute. I’d like to thank them and the working group for their full commitment to an extensive and important process. I believe what they have produced will make a big difference to the game as we seek to make rugby more accessible to all.”

Law Simplification Group: Mark Harrington (World Rugby Head of Technical Services and club head coach), Tappe Henning (Scottish Rugby Union Referee Manager and former international referee), Dr Ross Tucker (sports scientist), Rod Hill (New Zealand Rugby Referee Manager), Chris Cuthbertson (Chairman RFU Laws Committee), James Fitzgerald (World Rugby Media Manager and former international referee), Adam Pearson (web designer/illustrator).

Last Word on Rugby resident referee will dissect this new 2018 version on it’s release, and share his views with readers thereafter. The 2018 version will be distributed worldwide from January 1, and take affect from this date on*.

Note* – the changes to the rule book do not change current ‘law variations’ being trialled across the rugby globe. Northern hemisphere has already implemented these changes, and the Southern hemisphere competitions will still introduce the law variations from January 1, 2018.


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