Few things are as disheartening to audiences than watching a nail-biting rugby match, only to witness a team blatantly wasting time on the field in their attempt to maintain a narrow lead. As supporters of the game, we want to see athletic prowess, flourishes of skill, and the kind of relentless drive to win that makes the game so entertaining to watch. Players simply taking their time to advance on a penalty kick as they run out the clock is anything but engrossing game play.
Thankfully, World Rugby is set to introduce a number of measures in the new year that are aimed at speeding up the flow of the game, while avoiding such situations of time-wasting amongst players and teams. From 1 January, new laws will intend to reduce time wasting by platers, time spent consulting the TMO, and also state that water carriers are permitted to enter the field only after a try. But perhaps the most notable of all new laws is that relating to kicking penalties and conversions, with a shot clock introduced.
Under the new ruling, kickers must take a conversion within 90 seconds of a try being scored, while a penalty kick must be kicked within 60 seconds. For competitions like the Six Nations, players are encouraged to use a “shot clock” to help enforce the law, with the time limit applying “even if the ball rolls over and has to be placed again.”
As a statement from World Rugby explains: “The guidelines, which are designed to assist match officials, players and coaches and to enhance fan experience are part of a drive by the international federation to speed up the game and reflect key outcomes of the Shape of the Game conference in November.”
Within the new guidelines is also a clarification for World Rugby who look to clarify what constitutes a deliberate knock-on. The organisation states: “It is not an intentional knock-on if, in the act of trying to catch the ball, the player knocks on provided that there was a reasonable expectation that the player could gain possession.” Law changes will also look to focus on players supporting their own body weight at rucks and mauls.
With teams now preparing for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in October, these new rulings will certainly be imperative to understand and learn. All eyes will be on Australia in the coming months as the team prepares for the challenges ahead and looks to put their best players forward for what will be an exhilarating world cup experience.