World Rugby Law Clarification: Brake Foot and Half Brake Foot

  • February 11, 2024

From Michael Patz, RFU Match Official Development Manager


RFU Referee Society Secretaries

RFU Referee Society Training Officers

RFRU Representative to RFU Council  

RFRU Secretary

World Rugby have today issued a formal law clarification following a request from the FFR regarding the brake foot and what has become known as the half/semi brake foot.

In essence, the clarification reinforces that the half brake foot is permissible providing that there is a full brake foot in place to start with, and that any adjustment through the Crouch-Bind-Set sequence does not cause instability or axial loading.

We will need to discuss more widely the success of the Brake foot, which remains a Global Law Trial, as we will need to decide whether to progress it as it is to full law or discuss any amendments. If you have any views on that, do let me know!

The clarification is shown below and can be accessed here:

World Rugby Law Clarification

World Rugby Law Clarification: Brake Foot and Half Brake Foot

The Fédération Française de Rugby have asked:

It seems that vagueness exists around the application of the brake foot law, following the notion of “semi/half brake foot” by some hookers.

Is a “half brake foot” legal under the current Global Law Trial in Law 19?

Can a hooker have a full brake foot at the start of the sequence, and then readjust to what’s referred to as a half brake during the Crouch-Bind-Set phases?

Clarification of the designated members of the Rugby Committee

Relevant law wordings

  • Definition: Brake footWhere a hooker has one foot positioned forward in the middle of the tunnel to help stability and to avoid axial loading. This position is adopted throughout the “Crouch” and “Bind” elements of the engagement sequence. The foot can only be withdrawn after the “set” and before the strike for the ball.
  • Law 19.10.When both sides are square, stable and stationary, the referee calls “crouch”.
    c. Hookers must have a ‘brake’ foot positioned to help stability and to avoid axial loading.
  • Law 19.12 When both sides are square, stable and stationary, with the hooker still applying the brake foot, the referee calls “set”.
    a. Only then must the hooker remove the brake foot and the teams engage, completing the formation of the scrum and creating a tunnel into which the ball will be thrown.The Global Law Trial on the brake foot was introduced following player representation around the welfare of front row forwards. The brake foot ensures axial loading (pressure on heads and necks) is removed or reduced during the scrum engagement process.

In line with the definition in the Laws, during the “Crouch” and “Bind” phase of the engagement sequence, match officials must be able to see both hookers’ brake foot in the middle of the tunnel. This should ensure stability and avoid axial loading. It is permissible to adjust the position of the brake foot but it must still be fulfilling the act of a brake before being fully withdrawn on the “Set” call.

If any adjustment creates instability, pre-engagement or axial loading, then the brake is not acting as law intends and would be liable to sanction.

The brake foot is a Global Law Trial, so there will be a review of the processes with coaches, players and scrum coaches as part of our upcoming Shape of the Game meetings. World Rugby welcome further submissions from Members and stakeholders on its implementation and success. Following that, Council will be asked whether to move the trial into full law, or otherwise.