World Rugby introduces simplified rule book

Date published: December 7 2017

World Rugby have launched a new simplified rule book will be introduced globally from January 1, 2018 in which the game's laws will become clearer.

Approved at the November World Rugby Council meeting, the simplified law book is designed to make the laws easier to understand while not altering the meaning of them or how the game is played.

The book is the product of nearly two years’ work by a specially constituted group of experts and follows a comprehensive consultation and feedback process with World Rugby’s 120 member unions and all six regional associations. The eight-person group includes law experts, referees, a club coach, a sports scientist as well as a web designer/illustrator.

The result is a law book that is more logically laid out, clearer in its explanations and 42 percent shorter than the current version.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "As our game continues to grow around the world, we continue to strive to make the sport as accessible to all. The laws can be difficult to understand for new participants and fans and the new law book goes a long way towards simplifying it and making it easier to understand for players, coaches, referees and the viewing public.

"This has been a truly collaborative effort with every union given the opportunity to contribute. I’d like to thank them and the working group for their full commitment to a comprehensive and important process. I believe what they have produced will make a big difference to the game."

The Law Simplification Group consisted of: Mark Harrington (World Rugby Head of Technical Services and club head coach), Tappe Henning (Scottish Rugby Union Referee Manager and former international referee), Dr Ross Tucker (sports scientist), Rod Hill (New Zealand Rugby Referee Manager), Chris Cuthbertson (Chairman RFU Laws Committee), James Fitzgerald (World Rugby Media Manager and former international referee), Adam Pearson (web designer/illustrator).

The new law book will shortly be printed and distributed in the usual way while an online version will go live on 1 January. As there is no difference in law between the two books, either version can be used for the remainder of the 2017-18 season in the northern hemisphere.

The new simplified law book is:
– Shorter – it is almost half the length of the previous book (42 per cent shorter).
– Easier to read – it features plain language with fewer subordinate clauses
– More logical – the laws have been rearranged to make them more logical and sequential with contradictions and repetitions removed.
– Easier to understand – it now scores 7.26 in the Gunning Fog Index compared to 10.6 previously. Those numbers roughly equate to years of formal education required to understand the book fully.
– Easier to translate into other languages.

Process undertaken:
– The Law Simplification Group was set up by Rugby Committee in late 2015 with the task of making the law easier to read and understand.
– The group met for two multi-day, face-to-face workshops (in February and July 2016) and a total of six teleconferences in a 12-month period to produce the first draft of the book.
– That draft was sent out for validation to independent law experts from England, Canada, Australia, Romania and Kenya with all responses assessed and, if appropriate, adopted by the group.
– This latest draft was then distributed to all World Rugby member unions and to each of the six regional associations for further detailed feedback.
– There was also careful consultation with the rugby judicial and disciplinary community to ensure the new book corresponded effectively with judicial rules and processes.
– In September, 2017, Rugby Committee approved the book and recommended it for adoption by World Rugby Council.
– On 15 November, 2017, Council gave its full approval for the adoption of the new law book on 1 January, 2018.

With thanks to World Rugby


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