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Rugby is back – but not as we knew it!

Club rugby

Clubs throughout Wales make a welcome return to action this weekend

Competitive rugby will make a very welcome return across Wales this weekend, but it won’t be as we all knew it more than 500 days ago when the community game was last in full flow.

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COVID-19 has forced changes to laws to ensure safety and law variations on trial from World Rugby will make the opening round of games in the Pathway to Participation: Senior Cup Competition. This involves the Championship Cup and other competitions embracing teams from the lower leagues split into Plate, Bowl and Shield categories.

In addition, there is Women’s Cup tournament and a South Wales Plate tournament. It will be great to have teams back on the pitch playing again, but there will be a number of different things to look out for.

As far as the World Rugby regulations are concerned, these are the headline acts:


If the team in possession kicks the ball from inside their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents’ 22, they will throw into the resultant lineout. The ball cannot be passed or carried back into the defensive half for the 50:22 to be played. The phase must originate inside the defensive half.

The basic idea here is to ensure defending teams drop more players into the backfield to guard against potentially conceding line-outs inside their own 22. That would naturally mean fewer defenders in the frontline and more space for the attack. The trial law came about with safety in mind – if there are fewer defenders in the frontline, the defence’s line speed may be reduced and collisions might be less frequent and less impactful.


If the ball is held up in in-goal, if 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.


The three or more player, pre-bound pod, or flying wedge, is now outlawed. The sanction will be a penalty kick.


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


Any player who attempts a clean out which targets or drops weight onto the lower limbs of another player will now be penalised.
The adapted laws for the upcoming tournaments involve changes to existing rules to ensure safety under COVID-19 restrictions. The ones to look out for here are:


A scrum will only be awarded for a knock-on. For a knock on over the goal line, a goal line drop out will be awarded.

No pre-engagement / axial loading. Hookers must have a “brake” foot on bind to help stability. Sanction – Free Kick.

For an offence where a scrum is normally awarded (e.g forward pass) a TAP and PASS is the mandatory action to restart.

Teams must be given time to retire 10 metres. A scrum cannot be chosen at any penalty or free kick.


A lineout will consist of a thrower, a maximum of 7 players in the line and a receiver.

Lineout / Maul – No players can join the maul who are not already in the line-out.

Players must stay back 10 metres until the line-out finishes but cannot join the maul. Sanction – Penalty.

For ‘Not Straight’ at a line-out there will be no scrum option.


When referee calls “Ruck” no other player can join the ruck​.

When the ball is playable referees will immediately shout “use it” and the attacking team will have 5 seconds to move the ball away from the contact area​.


Only one movement in any direction.

Referees will shout “use it” when the maul stops.

CLICK HERE to view all the Pathway Laws for every age group


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