Experimental Law Variations
End in sight for controversial ELVs
April 30, 2009
French Rugby union Federation (FFR) president Bernard Lapasset speaks during a press conference in Paris, 08 october 2007. Argentina's advance to a first World Cup semi-final was recognised 08 October when Pumas pair Felipe Contempomi and Juan Martin Hernandez were announced as two of the five nominees for the 2007 IRB Player of the Year award.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset has overseen the latter stages of the Experimental Law Variations process © Getty Images

The scrapping of the controversial Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) has moved a step closer following the latest meeting of the International Rugby Board's Rugby Committee.

The governing body's sub-committee has ratified the recommendations made at the ELVs conference earlier this month that included the end of the experiments that allow a maul to be pulled down, unlimited numbers at the lineout and that which reduced many penalty offences to a free kick.

A total of 10 ELVs were recommended to be passed into full law including the five-metre off-side line at the scrum, the quick throw-in, lifting in the lineout and the pass-back rule, which prevents players from making any ground with a direct kick to touch if the ball has been played into their own 22. These will be put forward to the IRB Council for adoption into Law at their meeting on May 13.

The IRB Council will make the ultimate decision as to which ELVs, if any, should be fully integrated into Law but it is widely expected they will ratify the recommendations of the game's senior stakeholders who debated the ELVs at the two-day conference in London on March 30-31.

Any proposed ELVs will require a two-thirds majority from the 28-member Council, headed by IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset, to be accepted permanently into the Laws of the Game.

The Committee also made recommendations that three Union-specific ELVs be adopted into Law, including the ability for a Union to implement a maximum 15-minute half-time in matches under its jurisdiction.

The Rugby Committee evaluation is the latest step in the global ELV consultation and evaluation process which began with the Conference of the Game in 2004.

Recommendations for the IRB Council:

The following is recommended to the IRB Council for adoption into Law:

Law 6 - Assistant Referees able to assist Referees in any way the Referee requires
Law 19 - If a team puts the ball back in their own 22 and the ball is subsequently kicked directly into touch there is no gain in ground
Law 19 - A quick throw may be thrown in straight or towards the throwing team's goal line
Law 19 - The receiver at the lineout must be two metres back away from the lineout
Law 19 - The player who is in opposition to the player throwing in the ball must stand in the area between the five metre line and touch line and must be two metres from the line of touch and at least two metres from the lineout
Law 19 - Lineout players may pre-grip a jumper before the ball is thrown in
Law 19 - The lifting of lineout jumpers is permitted
Law 20 - Introduction of an offside line five metres behind the hindmost feet of the Scrum
Law 20 - Scrum half offside line at the Scrum
Law 20 - The corner posts are no longer considered to be touch in goal except when the ball is grounded against the post

Union-specific ELVs Recommended to Council:

Unions may implement rolling substitutions at defined levels of the Game

A Union having a jurisdiction over a Game may implement a half-time interval of not more than 15 minutes

A Union may implement the Under 19 Scrum Law Variation at a defined level of the Game under its jurisdiction

The following is not recommended to the IRB Council for adoption into Law:

Law 17 - Maul - Head and Shoulders not to be lower than hips
Law 17 - Maul - Pulling Down the Maul
Law 19 - Freedom for each team to determine Lineout Numbers

The Sanctions and Tackle/Ruck ELVs will not be recommended to the IRB Council for adoption into Law. However, the Rugby Committee has deferred these areas for further consultation.

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