What laws are the Lions’ matches being played under?

As of this week, all global rugby is being played under the new set of law variations being trialled by World Rugby. As we reported in November last year, the southern hemisphere teams have been operating under these new laws all season. But for the Lions visitors to New Zealand, and the other Summer tours, these laws will be new.

Some reports suggest that the British & Irish Lions squad haven’t had any specific referee briefing on them, preferring to use Super Rugby videos and training videos to fill the void.

What are the new law variations they'll be playing under?Click To Tweet


Law 3 Number of Players – The Team

3.6 (Uncontested Scrums)

Add (h) Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.

Reasoning: To discourage teams from going to uncontested scrums.

Law 5 Time

Add to 5.7(e) If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.

Reasoning: To discourage teams from infringing in the dying moments of the game.

Law 8 Advantage

Add to 8.1(a) When there are multiple penalty infringements by the same team, the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous of the penalty marks.

Reasoning: To discourage repeat offending when advantage is already being played and to reward teams against whom repeat offending has taken place.

Law 9 Method of Scoring

9.A.1 (points values)

Penalty Try. If a player would probably have scored a try but for foul play by an opponent, a penalty try is awarded. No conversion is attempted.

Value: 7 points

Reasoning: To discourage teams from illegally preventing a probable try from being scored while also saving time on the clock by negating the need for a conversion.

Law 19 Touch and Lineout

Add to definitions on page 117:
• A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.

Reasoning: This brings into law something that is already applied in practice. It means that a player “juggling” the ball does not have to be in contact with it at the exact moment of touching the touchline or the ground beyond it for the ball to be deemed to be in touch. This makes it easier for the match officials to adjudicate.

Amend eighth definition on page 117:
• If a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area (or if that player catches the ball and throws it back into the playing area) before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches the plane of touch.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Add to definitions on page 117:
• If the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Add to sixth definition on page 117:
• In this case, if the ball has passed the plane of touch when it is caught, then the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch. If the ball has not passed the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.


  1. The most vital law changes have yet to be made! 1: running/ impact tackles must be below the waist (not forsmother taclkles. Reasoning: to reduce the increasing likelihood of serious injury.
    2: a side going over the line in possession of the ball gets the benefit of any doubt and awarded a try. Reasoning: to reward attacking play and to reduce the endless replays now taking up so much time.
    :3: A ball emerging from scrum or ruck is deemed to be out and playable by the opposition if there is clear sky above any part of it or if the player in the position of scrum half puts his hands on the ball. Reasoning: to end delays at the base of the breakdown and encourage continuity and consistency in refereeing.
    4:penalty kicks to touch taken inside the opponents 22 will result in a scrum to the opponent. Reasoning: to speed up play and encourage tap penalties. scrum remains an option.
    5: airborne catches may not be given a mark and players on the kicking side of such s ball may not challenge for the balk until lithe catcher returns to ground with both feet. Reasoning : to bring an end to serious inconsistency of interpretation by referees and to reduce the potential for serious injury.
    The game would benefit hugely from these changes increasing safety, reducing water time and encouraging parents to allow their children to participate at school level.

  2. Re Paul Hewitt’s comment number 5. How about removing the Mark law. Reason, to reward attacking play and encourage more try scoring and remove a “get out of jail card” for the defender, as well as removing the inconsistency of interpretation. Perhaps Mark could be retained at under 18 age groups, for safety reasons.

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