World Rugby Bring In New Laws To Improve Player Welfare

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New Rugby Rules Introduced
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott In: Industrial Disease, Personal Injury

In further attempts to make rugby safer for players, World Rugby have announced new law trial aimed at improving player welfare. This comes in the wake of many contact sports being criticised for the long-lasting impact that it can have on players.

New Rules Introduced in Rugby

What are the new laws?

The laws include:

  • 50/22

This allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half. It will come into effect from the 1st August across all competitions.

  • A goal line drop-out will replace five-metre scrums

When the ball is held up in in-goal, there is a knock-on from an attacking player in in-goal or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal, then play restarts with a goal line drop-out anywhere along the goal line.

  • Pre-bound pod of players

Outlawing the practice of pods of three or more players being pre-bound prior to receiving the ball – the sanction will be a penalty kick.

  • Sanctioning the lower limb clear-out

Penalising players who target/drop their weight onto the lower limbs of jackler – the sanction will be a penalty kick.

  • Tightening law relating to latching

One-player latch to be permitted, but this player has the same responsibilities as a first arriving player (i.e. must stay on feet, enter through gate and not fall to floor) – the sanction will be a penalty kick.

Furthermore, World Rugby has announced protocols that will deal with concussions, with independent specialists set to review every case of a player returning to play after a head injury. The Independent Concussion Consultants panel will be giving their expert opinions on whether players are ready to return to the pitch following a concussion or a head injury.

What is post-concussion syndrome?

One of the main medical conditions that these rules are attempting to alleviate is post-concussion syndrome. Concussion is unfortunately common in contact sports, and can include symptoms such as:

  • A headache that does not go away or is not relieved with painkillers
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Memory loss – you may not remember what happened before or after the injury
  • Clumsiness or being off balance
  • Unusual behaviour – you may become irritated easily or have sudden mood swings
  • Feeling stunned, dazed or confused
  • Changes in your vision – such as blurred vision, double vision or ‘seeing stars’
  • Being knocked out or struggling to stay awake

Post-concussion syndrome is when these symptoms may last over an extended period of time and become a persistent part of the injured person’s life. The further symptoms of post-concussion syndrome can include:

  • Noise and light sensitivity
  • Decreased taste and smell
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

In addition to post-concussion syndrome, players are also at risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is a progressive brain condition that is thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head, and can occur in sports such as football, rugby and boxing. It is often referred to as ‘punch drunk syndrome.’ The disease can get worse over time and can ultimately result in dementia. There is no specific treatment for the disease, and this change in the laws of rugby is thought to be a positive step towards prevention.

Head and brain injuries can have serious and life-changing implications, read more on our head and brain injury page.

The risks that rugby players take is not limited to those playing at a professional level. If you are involved in lower level or grassroots play, then you could also be affected by these medical issues. If your club has not carried out the correct safety procedures and you have suffered as a result, then we can help you.

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