Important Information from Pre-Season Meetings – Law & Regulations Update

  • August 30, 2019

Please see below an overview of the Law and Regulation Update that was presented by Andy McMillan (Chairman of Training and Development) at the recent pre-season meetings.

Referees (and Referee Assessors and Coaches) are asked to ensure that they are familiar with these updates and fully understand the implications. If any clarification is required please contact your grade mentor or any member of the Executive Committee.


Law / Regulation Overview Further Information
Law 19.10b Amendment – Scrum Law 19.10b now reads: “The front-rows crouch with their heads to the left of their immediate opponents’, so that no player’s head is touching the neck or shoulders of an opponent.”


This change will prevent ‘pre-loading’ where front row players place the crown of their heads on opponents shoulders between the “bind” and “set” calls. This action causes axial loads that can adversely impact player welfare.

World Rugby – Law 19
High Tackle Decision Making Framework Improve consistency in application of sanctions by distinguishing between dangerous tackles that warrant a penalty, yellow card or red card.

The framework also supports protection of the head of both players by consistently and frequently sanctioning the tackle behaviour that is known to be the highest risk.

World Rugby – Decision Making for High Tackles


(Includes detailed description of the framework flow chart to aid decision-making together with a video showing examples.)

“Half Game” for all Age-grade matches Ensure that all players within the match day squad get to play at least half the game time available.

This can be done by using rolling substitutions and/or at set periods within the game. Both sets of coaches should talk with the referee prior to games, to agree how best they can implement the half-game rule and other game conditions to ensure it is player-centred.

The referee should agree with the coaches from both teams, prior to the game, how they wish to implement the half-game rule – i.e. rolling subs or during set breaks.

Referees are not asked to enforce this by stopping the game or awarding sanctions.


RFU – Half Game
“Game On” The 2019/2020 season will see Game On principles introduced to all adult male and female rugby, except RFU Leagues and Cups.

The ‘Game On’ principles allow teams to be more flexible with the laws to allow the match to go ahead.

With Game On:

  • A match can now take place as long as each team has a minimum of 10 players. In addition, the result will stand as long as the match is a minimum of 40 minutes rather than 80.
  • Rolling substitutions can be made and teams are encouraged to apply the Half Game rule to ensure that each player in every match day squad plays at least half of the available playing time.
  • The principles also allow for both scrums and lineouts to be uncontested.
  • Both teams must agree which of the Game On principles will apply to the match and notify the referee at least 30 minutes prior to kick off.
  • If both teams cannot agree which principles to apply, the match will proceed without the application of the Game On principles.

At all times, referees will apply the principles of common sense and safety to apply appropriate elements of Game On.


RFU – Game On