The Schools Rugby Season is expected to kick off with the Under-18 Sevens on February 2 and 3. This will also be for the selection of the Under-18 Sevens National Pool in preparation for the second Asian Youth Championship, to be played in Nanjing China in August. According to sources at the SLRFU they will [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Look out for rule changes during the coming season

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The Schools Rugby Season is expected to kick off with the Under-18 Sevens on February 2 and 3. This will also be for the selection of the Under-18 Sevens National Pool in preparation for the second Asian Youth Championship, to be played in Nanjing China in August. According to sources at the SLRFU they will go into training under Sri Lanka’s successful sevens coach Ben Gollings.

With barely two weeks for Schools Rugby to start, the area of change does not seem to be discussed as a group. - File pic

The Under-20 Sevens are expected to be played on February 16 and 17. Schools that have been handed out punishments for not taking part in the 2012 knockout tournament are doubtful starters. Some claim that they have not been informed in writing about the suspension. The Secretary of the SLSRFA, Susantha Mendis, explained that all school representatives were informed and letters also have been sent. He also said that the schools concerned can submit an appeal for consideration to play in the Sevens. However the decision to not allow participation in the knockout is not negotiable and will stay. Finding an issue in the letter not been sent looks like an excuse to an argument as the schools was represented at the meeting.

Explaining further Mendis said that all the schools that were kept away will be allowed to play the Under-18 tournament as this doubles for selection of the Under-18 pool. He went on to say that Vidyartha as well as Zahira will be allowed to play in Division 1 of the Under-18 as they do not want the students to be denied of the opportunity.

Out of the schools that have been kept out it is understood that St, Joseph’s College, S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavina and Thurstan College are not keen to take part in the Under-20 as they believe that a sevens two weeks prior to the league will require changing the training schedules and style while bringing additional pressure to the players. The appeal is of concern only to Royal College and St. Peter’s College who are keen to play.

The schools that have been suspended however are keen on taking part in the knock out and claim that they did not play as the previous dates clashed with the preparation for the Advanced Level. They argue that education is most important and they did not wish to play last year. With the change in the schools calendar and the knock out expected to be played late June they would want to give the players the opportunity.

There are other areas of rugby that coaches keep asking and we are almost at the mouth of the dates to commence the league. Following the last Junior Asian tournament played in Colombo according to the Under-19 rules there are some who wonder whether it should be played in the same format.

The reason being that we will continue to play the Asian Junior Games as fewer than 19 as we remain out of the top five. Sri Lanka did not implement same as they were mid season.

Even though the changes were not implemented in the domestic tournament the participation in the Asian Sevens series as well as the Under-19 tournament were under the changed laws. This will require both coaches as well as referees to be educated and be on the same wavelength. With barely two weeks for Schools Rugby to start the area of change does not seem to be discussed as a group. The Law changes are as follow: Notes have been given where the writer thinks it is important and these are not the views of the Sri Lanka Society of Rugby Football Referees.

Law 1 – The Ground. Law 3.4 –

Number of Players. Sevens Variations
A team may now nominate up to five replacements/substitutes and may use all of them.

Law 9.B.1 – Taking a Conversion Kick

When a try is scored, the scoring team now has one and a half minutes (90 seconds) FROM THE TIME THE TRY IS SCORED to take the conversion. This is playing time;

Law 12.1 – Outcome of a Knock-on or Throw Forward

If the ball is knocked-on or thrown forward into touch, the non-offending team may choose the lineout or the scrum. If they take a quick throw-in, they have made their choice.

Law 16.7 – Unsuccessful End to a Ruck:

This puts a “use it or lose it” requirement on rucks. Once the ball is clearly won and available to be played, the referee will call “use it” after which the ball must be played within five seconds. If not, it is a turnover – scrum to the other team.

Law 19.2 – Quick Throw-In: This change alters where a quick throw can be taken. Currently a quick throw can be taken anywhere from the place the ball crossed the touch line back to the thrower’s goal line.

The change allows a quick throw to be taken anywhere from the place of the lineout back to the thrower’s goal line.
The gap that used to exist if the ball was kicked out on the fly from in front of the 22 is now gone. This will have a bigger impact in Sevens than it will in Fifteens.

Law 20.1 – Scrum Engagement;

This is the big change to
the process:
Referee says “crouch” and the teams crouch (or remain crouched if already Down).
Referee says “touch” and the four props reach out and touch and then withdraw their arms.
When the referee is satisfied that the front rows appear ready to engage AND ARE STABLE, the referee says “set”. The front rows may then come together when ready. This is not a command. It is permission.

Law 21.4 – Penalty and Free Kick

Options and Requirements:
This change is only for free kicks and penalty kicks awarded at line outs. A team that is awarded a kick may choose to have a lineout instead of the kick. And of course they may also choose a scrum in lieu of the kick.

Law 3.4 – Players Nominated as Substitutes:

A Union may nominate up to eight replacements/substitutes.

Law 6.A.6 (b) – Referee Consulting with Others;

This expands the use of the TMO.
Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB




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