World Rugby reveal plans to depower scrums and close ‘Dupont Law’ loophole

Jared Wright
A scrum between South Africa and England during teh 2023 Rugby World Cup and Finn Russell kicking.

A scrum between South Africa and England during teh 2023 Rugby World Cup and Finn Russell kicking.

The World Rugby Council is set to vote on three crucial law amendments for global adoption in May.

In its pursuit of enhancing game continuity, rugby’s governing body has proposed these three law amendments.

Dupont Law

World Rugby look set to close the loophole in Law 10 in relation to players being put onside when there are kicks in open play.

France scrum-half Antoine Dupont has been known to exploit the loophole, leading to it being informally dubbed as the ‘Dupont Law’.

Law 10.7 states that “an offside player can be put onside when:
a. An onside team-mate of that player moves past the offside player and is within or has re-entered the playing area.

b. An opponent of that player:
i. Carries the ball five metres; or
ii. Passes the ball; or
iii. Kicks the ball; or
iv. Intentionally touches the ball without gaining possession of it.

The issue is created with “An opponent of that player carries the ball five metres.”

Scotland and France made use of this loophole during the 2024 Six Nations, which led to a prolonged kicking tennis duel with Thomas Ramos and Finn Russell barely moving and waiting for team-mates to retreat.

An adjustment in the law was quickly added as a trial in Super Rugby Pacific ahead of the start of the 2024 season. If it is voted on in May, it could be rolled out globally.

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Depowering scrums and binning ‘croc rolls’

Alongside the ‘Dupont Law’ amendment, the World Rugby Council will vote on whether teams will be able to opt for a scrum being awarded a free kick at a scrum.

If passed, a team would no longer be able to request another scrum if the referee awards a free-kick from an infringement by the opposition at a scrum.

This would allow for weaker scrummaging teams to concede a free-kick on the opposition’s feeds to avoid conceding a penalty or allow the opposition to wear them down in the scrums.

World Rugby’s statement adds that the change would reduce ‘dead time’ in matches.

The final amendment that will be put to a vote will be to outlaw the practice of the ‘croc roll’ at the breakdown.

The ‘croc roll’ or crocodile roll refers to a move at the breakdown to remove an opponent standing over the ball. A player performing the move would grab the opponent around the torso and use their body weight to roll them out of the breakdown – the name coming from the way in which a crocodile subdues its prey.

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