Discussions are ongoing around the implementation of rugby's new law trials for the upcoming Rainbow Cup.
The southern hemisphere have already introduced the trials in Super Rugby Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Super Rugby AU (Australia), but as of yet, the northern hemisphere has not followed suit.
The new law trials include:
RED CARD - ability to replace red-carded player after 20 minutes
GOAL-LINE DROP-OUT – For held-up, knock-in in goal or forcing/grounding a ball which is kicking into in-goal. Reward defensive team with a drop-out anywhere on goal-line
NO MARK IN 22M - for kicks which originate in attacking 22m. The kick can be marked in goal. Restart with a 22m drop-out
50:22 AND 22:50 - reward indirect free-kicks to touch with the lineout throw
GOLDEN POINT/TRY - If the match is drawn at full-time, the match goes to extra-time with the winner determined by either first try or points scored
CAPTAIN'S CHALLENGE - Team allowed one captain's challenge but only for try-scoring, foul play or last five minutes of each half. Retain challenge if successful
KICK-OFF AND RESTARTS - Opposition team restarts with a drop-out and within 30 seconds of conversion or penalty-kick/drop goal
World Rugby has been tracking the success rate of each of the above law trials in a bid to make the game a better all-round product, with player welfare at the heart of their thinking.
Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is heavily involved in the future direction of the game in his role as World Rugby Director of Rugby and High Performance.
Ultimately, it will be up to the organisers of the Rainbow Cup to decide if they would like to implement any of the law trials.
As of yet, it is unclear if they will be adopted in time for the start of the new competition, which is due to begin on the weekend of April 24, as South Africa's biggest franchises the Lions, the Stormers, the Sharks, and the Bulls will join the existing PRO14 clubs.
Meanwhile, World Rugby has announced today at its Player Welfare and Laws Symposium that it is to evaluate the latest eye-tracking technology to assist with the identification and management of concussions in the sport.
It is envisaged that the technology would be used within a ‘shadow study’ alongside the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) to determine whether the technology could further enhance an HIA process that is operating at approximately 90 per cent accuracy in elite competitions.
“It will also be used within the six-stage graduated return-to-play process to monitor players returning from injury.
Eye-tracking technology as a means of supporting brain health has demonstrated positive potential in various clinical settings with the latest aggregate data suggesting that oculomotor functions are altered at the time of, or shortly after, concussion.
World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Éanna Falvey said:
“As a key element of our progressive approach to injury reduction and management in rugby, rugby continually explores and assesses technology developments that could enhance the care of players in our sport at all levels.
“The ambition of the eye-tracking study in partnership with NeuroFlex® and EyeGuide is to determine the technology’s objective diagnostic accuracy in a rugby environment and help inform the advancement of World Rugby’s future concussion identification and management strategies.
“We believe that oculomotor screening examination in rugby has the potential to boost the identification and management of concussions by objectively identifying potential abnormalities in oculomotor function between a player’s baseline and when removed for an HIA assessment, adding to the depth of identification methods available to the sport.”
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin also reaffirmed the international federation’s commitment to foster a safer and more accessible game for future generations.
“Medical science and knowledge is ever-evolving,” Gilpin added.
“Rugby will continue to evolve with it to further reduce the risk of injury, but also to further support players with mental wellbeing issues during and after their careers.
“We will consider the latest research, examine the latest technological developments that can aid concussion identification and management, and discuss how the rugby family can play a role in long-term health.
“Through the knowledge, expertise, dedication and passion in this virtual forum – medics, scientists, researchers, players, coaches, referees and laws experts – I am excited about the momentum that we can continue to build in the priority area of player welfare.”