Covid Law Variations for England

Phil E


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With these adapted laws coming into force in just over a week, and interclub games restarting I thought it would be useful to see if anyone envisages any problems with them? We had a Society presentation on Monday and all seems fairly clear. Management and communication seem to be the main focus.
I have reffed them a bit at U15 without issue.

[LAWS]COVID-19 Law Variations 2020/21
FACT SHEET

The principal changes are to:
1. Suspend Law 19 (other than the amended Law 19.1 below) in its entirety.
2. Suspend Law 16 in its entirety.

Law 16: The Maul is suspended in its entirety
Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick.
When one or more players come into contact with an opposing ball carrier and do not bring that player to ground, those players may attempt to gain possession of the ball if done immediately, but thereafter must not prevent the ball carrier from playing the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick to the team in possession of the ball.
No other player may join these players in contact. Sanction: Penalty kick against arriving players.
The ball carrier must play the ball immediately. Sanction: Penalty kick to the team not in possession.

Law 18 Lineout
18.11 – Forming a Lineout. The throwing team must, when forming the lineout, have a minimum of five players and maximum of seven players. Sanction: Free-kick to the non-throwing team.
18.14 - Amend to - The non-throwing team must match the number of players in the lineout with the throwing team.
Sanction: Free-kick to the throwing team.
The player winning the ball in the lineout must either pass the ball immediately, release it to a teammate or leave the lineout as soon as they land on the ground. Sanction: Free-kick.
NB: Law 18.3 & 4 (quick throw) have not been varied.

Law 19 Scrum
19.1 - Principle. Amend to Where the game would restart play with a scrum, is replaced with a Free-kick in all circumstances.

Law 5 Time
5.7 a: Delete ‘scrum’.
5.7 b: Amend to - The referee awards a Penalty or Free-kick, other than a Free-kick for which a scrum would have been awarded previously. (This will end the half or full-time.)
5.9 - Irrespective of the weather conditions, the referee has the discretion to allow water breaks at any stage of the match.

Law 20 Penalty and Free-Kick
20.3 - Amend to - A team awarded a Penalty or Free-kick may not choose a scrum.
20.4 – Amend to - A team awarded a Penalty or Free-kick at a lineout may instead choose another lineout at the same mark.
20.11 - Amend to - Taking a Penalty or Free-Kick. The ball must be kicked a visible distance. If the kicker is holding it, it must clearly leave the hands. If it is on the ground, it must clearly leave the mark. At a free-kick, other than on either fivemetre lines, once the kick has been taken legally, the kicker may not run with the ball. Sanction: Free-kick.
NB: For the avoidance of doubt, there is no change to the law relating to taking a penalty kick, which can be played immediately, and the kicker may run with the ball.

Variations
Sevens
No variations
Tens
Lineout - 18.11 – Forming a Lineout. Law 18 Lineout:The throwing-in team must have a minimum of three players and maximum of five players. Sanction: Free-kick to the non-throwing team.
Insert 18.14 - The non-throwing team must match the number of players in the lineout with the throwing team.
Sanction: Free-kick to the throwing team.[/LAWS]
 

Flish


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I got two adult games over Xmas reffing these, main take always where;

- really slow down the scrum replacement FK and get them back a clear 10 (or 11!)
- same with line out, keep them back 10 so space to play it disappears fast
- players responded well to the ‘to ground’ thing, no accidental mauls or held up issues but lots of pick and go’s
- lack of creativity at all those FK’s
- quicker game, not all players appreciate that, so use the water breaks, and slowed down FK’s to appease them
- it’s fun, but can be fast
 

Lee Lifeson-Peart


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I did one before Christmas on a muddy pitch.

We played 3x 25 mins to allow for coaches to swap and change and fat lads to rest.

I had one accidental maul.

I would concur with Flish's points above.

Bear in mind this was the first game of any sort for 9 months or so when i did it so we were all a bit rusty.

I explained all at the PMB to all players (ordinarily I would only do FRs and Capts.) but still had the odd instance of a lack of understanding. Between the layoff, the pitch and the revised format it was a good challenge.

I don't think the fatties appreciated it although some got a lot more ball than normal from the plethora of free-kicks. I was excellent a nd my game recorded. If I was clever I could let you watch it somehow, but I'm not, so you'll just have to believe me! :biggrin:
 

Flish


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The self reflection I took back from my games was that maybe I was a little too enthusiastic around the new breakdown expectations (time jackler needs on the ball, lifting, how long they can be etc) - I don’t think I was technically wrong, but with rusty players, old habits, lack of fitness, and the other law changes I think my expectations where a bit off.

I have a charity mixups 15s game on 1st May, so no team unity or cohesion whatsoever, so I think I’ll be more coaching around expectations than whistle if I can help it.
 

Phil E


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In our presentation the biggest concern for most people seemed to be the forming of a maul and who was at fault.
In my few games this was never really an issue.

Good communication (before and during the game) helps a lot here, but its a fast paced dynamic situation so you have to think and speak quickly. This is where the phrases 'use it' and 'release' are good.

At free kicks remind them that they can't tap and run unless they are on the 5m line. They must tap and pass.

Coaches need reminding that rucks are as normal. Some seem to think they can only be 1v1 which was an early rule that was done away with.

I have several 10 minute training sessions coming up and then a full game on the 2nd May. Looking forward to it.
 

crossref


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In our presentation the biggest concern for most people seemed to be the forming of a maul and who was at fault.
In my few games this was never really an issue.

.

yes, I think that's because everyone understands this isn't a rugby law, where players naturally look for loopholes and play at the boundary of what the ref allows -- but it's a COVID thing, so it's a different kind of rule.
 

didds

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Law 16: The Maul is suspended in its entirety
Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick.

so in reality when a team A player has the ball and no team B player is in contact with him, NO other team A player may bind onto A (eg pre binding, ripping the ball etc) come what may ... correct?

didds
 

Flish


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Law 16: The Maul is suspended in its entirety
Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick.

so in reality when a team A player has the ball and no team B player is in contact with him, NO other team A player may bind onto A (eg pre binding, ripping the ball etc) come what may ... correct?

didds

In amended law writing yes, in practice and the webinar guidance no! The RFU webinar basically said "latching ok, binding not". If you think of the ultimate goal is use it or go to ground, then penalising a player from either team for "binding" if he's doing so to ensure the 'nearly a / might become a maul, upright tackle thing' to ground and continue play is harsh. And that was my experience, secondary players came in, bound, helped the bundle of bodies to ground and we had a tackle, breakdown, play on.

If in the process of that contact they rip the ball, then play on too. I didn't penalise anyone for this, but I did have a couple of free kicks for where it didn't go to ground quick enough for me, but no fault, just circumstance and staying safe.
 

didds

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OK. so accepting these are interim and temporary laws to aloow games to happen, to be clear when the law now requires

Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick.

that isnt actually what is expected necessarily

Gotcha.
 

Flish


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OK. so accepting these are interim and temporary laws to aloow games to happen, to be clear when the law now requires

Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick.

that isnt actually what is expected necessarily

Gotcha.

Exactly, so any coaches who have taken then time to read the laws, prepare their players are going to find that refs who have done the same, and participated in the webinars will do something different - normal service really!
 

didds

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Exactly, so any coaches who have taken then time to read the laws, prepare their players are going to find that refs who have done the same, and participated in the webinars will do something different - normal service really!

you might say that, I couldnt POSSIBLY comment
 

Phil E


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Not 100% sure what your getting at Didds, so this might be the wrong answer...but....

Ball carrier is running.
Opposition player grabs the ball carrier to try and tackle him but the ball carrier fights to stay on his feet because he wants to make more ground.

At this point if a team-mate of the ball carrier joins in he forms a maul and is liable to penalty. Ideally we will manage this by telling him not to join, etc.

Meanwhile the original two players are grappling for the ball. The none ball carrier can try to rip the ball but must do so immediately.

If he fails to rip the ball immediately then we now want a tackle to take place, or the ball carrier to pass the ball away, so we can avoid players being face to face on their feet.

This is where the phrases 'use it' and 'release' come into play. (I also use 'make the tackle'). if the ball can't be passed away then we want them to go to ground and complete the tackle.

Having missed his chance to rip, we don't want to see the none ball carrier continue to hold up the ball carrier, if he does so, he is liable to a penalty.

So at this point (and this all takes a few seconds), we want to see...rip the ball, complete the tackle, or pass the ball away. Anyone who prevents any of those things happening is liable to penalty because they promote the risk of a maul forming.

Also remember that if the would be tackler releases the ball carrier at your command, we then can't in equity allow the ball carrier to run off. Hence 'use it'.

PS: Latching is allowed in pick and goes (in the normal way) if no opposition player is bound on first.
 

didds

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its the PS that is what I was getting at.

The law simply says

"Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick."

but in a latch, a player is binding onto a team mate who is in possession of the ball. Apparently with no sanction.

Go figure.

( I follow the thing about players subsequently going to ground etc. But the law doesnt say that.)

Im not losing sleep over it. Its just another example of something that can only end up causing confusion amongst some areas.
 

Phil E


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its the PS that is what I was getting at.

The law simply says

"Players must not bind onto a team-mate who is in possession of the ball. Sanction: Penalty kick."

This is listed under the Maul law.
It's not great wording (no surprise there), but what it means is that a player cannot form a maul by binding onto a team mate who has the ball.
 

didds

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This is listed under the Maul law.
It's not great wording (no surprise there), but what it means is that a player cannot form a maul by binding onto a team mate who has the ball.

Yeah.

But Bert the secocnd row doesn't think "oh, what law is that under?" when he is considering latching or not. Or watching his opposite number doing it.

And lets face it - we see dicussions here levering items from other laws to try and get a solution for a different law interpretation in certain scenarios.

didds
 
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Phil E


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If all goes to plan these temporary laws will only be in place for a month, so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it either. You can only deal with what's in front of you.
 

Flish


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The important point explained to us, for this temporary scenario, are the things we're trying to avoid (close face to face contact for more than a few seconds) and what are we wanting to achieve (play the ball away or go to ground and reset) so as long as those are communicated and achieved then everybody should be happy. Sure the laws and adjustments are there to penalise deliberate infringement against those goals, or help us restart when it doesn't work but that's about it.

Like 'playing the 9' you're hard pushed to find law wording that says you can't in most scenarios, but our goal is to reset and play the game positively so we manage it that way. Same thing really.
 
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