Try-scoring law changed in response to post-pad interference

By Stephen Barry

Pierre Schoeman of Edinburgh lifts up the post pads at Musgrave Park. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Pierre Schoeman of Edinburgh lifts up the post pads at Musgrave Park. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Rugby players can no longer score a try by grounding the ball against the post pads.

World Rugby has changed the try-scoring law with immediate effect, citing the growing difficulty for teams to legally defend against such a try due to the size of the post protectors increasing for safety reasons.

The methods of defending extended to Edinburgh players lifting the pads to prevent Munster scoring a close-range try in the PRO14 at Musgrave Park last November. World Rugby feared the increased possibility of injuries occurring if teams were allowed to continue exposing the post.

“In my view, you can’t touch the goalposts,” said Munster head coach Johann van Graan after that match. “It is the safety of the game, you pull that up. There’s been another incident in world rugby — that was a yellow and straight penalty try. We have got to keep with the values on the game.

“I’m not going to comment further on it, but safety is paramount. If somebody hits the goalposts there and something happens to them, it is really frustrating.” 

The amended law will now include the provision: "The post protector is no longer an extension of the goal-line and therefore Law 8.2 (a) will read: A try is scored when the attacking player is first to ground the ball in the opponents’ in-goal."

The decision was approved by the World Rugby Council during a teleconference on Tuesday.

"World Rugby’s mission is to make the game as simple, safe, and enjoyable to play as possible," said chairman Bill Beaumont. "This law amendment reflects that mission.

"By stipulating that an attacking team can no longer score against the post protector and therefore must ground the ball in-goal, this gives defending teams a fair chance of preventing a try from being scored."

World Rugby are also "encouraged" by the initial feedback to two of their ongoing rules experiments aimed at enhancing player welfare.

These are reducing the tackle height to the waist and the 50:22 kick, which awards the kicking team an attacking lineout if they kick the ball from inside their own half indirectly into touch inside their opponents’ 22, or from inside their own 22 into their opponents’ half. The rationale for the latter rule is to create space by forcing the defending team to consider dropping deeper to deter the kicking game.

The lowered tackle has resulted in a reported three-fold decrease in injuries and a 60% reduction in concussions in French community rugby.

Other trials set to resume when rugby is permitted to return include a tackle technique warning, introducing an infringement limit for teams before an automatic yellow card is handed out, the ability to review a yellow card for dangerous foul play when a player is already in the sin-bin, and awarding a goal-line drop-out to the defending team when an attacking player, who brings the ball into in-goal, is held up.

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