IRB set to discuss three key rule changes
January 5, 2000

The International Rugby Board is set to meet later this month to discuss three major rule changes after requests from New Zealand, world champions Australia and South Africa.

If agreed, the changes could be introduced in time for the Six Nations and Super 12 tournaments starting in February.

The proposed meeting of the IRB's executive committee follows last month's "Playing the Game" conference in Sydney after which the southern hemisphere nations asked the IRB to discuss the introduction of a 'sin bin' as well as modifications to the laws governing the tackle and scrummaging.

Sin bins, which force a player to leave the action for a short period, are seen as an effective way of cutting down on the increasing use of professional fouls to stop tries.

The change to the tackle law would mean that players could only contest the ball by coming in from their own side.

The proposed amendment to the scrummaging rules, known as 'the use it or lose it' rule, would force a side to use the ball quickly or lose possession, thus preventing the type of try-line deadlock witnessed during last year's World Cup.

A date for the meeting in Dublin is yet to be set but it is likely to take place in the third or fourth week of January.

"We have received requests from the three major southern hemisphere unions to discuss these issues,'' said IRB spokesman Peter McMullan.

"The meeting of the executive committee will almost certainly take place later this month although an actual date is yet to be finalised."

The IRB executive committee only has the power to sanction experimental law changes. But if the trials are considered successful, the amendments could be made part of the game's rules when the full IRB council sits at the end of March.

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