World Rugby to trial limits on non-playing personnel entering the field of play

New laws for World Rugby

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The World Rugby Council has approved a global trial limiting the opportunity for non-playing personnel to enter the field of play during a match. Operational for all competitions and stand-alone matches starting after 1 July 2022, the trial aims to improve the flow of matches by reducing unnecessary stoppages without compromising welfare.

The new law trials will put an end to controversy created by South African Rasie Erasumus who was regularly seen functioning as the water boy for the Springboks despite being South Africa’s Rugby Director. The existing World Rugby regulations only barred the head coaches from carrying water but the new laws have put an end to Rassie’s time as a water boy.

Teams will only be allowed two dedicated water runners while the person bringing the kicking tee will be allowed to carry a single water bottle for the kicker. However, the players in field are allowed to access water from behind the goal line or from the dedicated at any time.

The new law also dictates that no-one apart from the medics who may contact the referee regarding an injury from a player, should approach, address or aim comments at the match officials and will be sanctioned via a penalty kick if this happens.

For all competitions, including Rugby World Cup 2021 playing in 2022, Rugby World Cup 2023 or stand-alone matches that begin after 1 July 2022 the following adjustments to Law 6 will apply:

Medics

  • Can only provide water to players who they are treating
  • Cannot field or touch a ball when it is live in play (sanction: penalty kick)

Additional personnel

  • Teams are permitted up to two dedicated water carriers
  • Water carriers cannot be a Director of Rugby or Head Coach
  • In elite-level rugby, water carriers will only be able to enter the field of play twice per half at points agreed with the match officials – this can only be during a stoppage in play or after a try has been scored
  • A person bringing on a kicking tee may carry one bottle for the kicker’s use only
  • These water/tee carriers must remain in the Technical Zone at all times before entering the field of play as permitted. Any attempt to field or touch the ball while it is live in play, including the technical zone, will be sanctioned with a penalty kick.
  • No-one should approach, address or aim comments at the match officials, save for medics in respect of treatment of a player. Should this happen, the sanction will be a penalty kick.

Players on the field

  • May access water behind the dead ball line or from within their Technical Zone at any time