‘Dupont’s Law’ is kicked to touch by World Rugby

Crocodile roll has also been outlawed

'Dupont's Law' – named after legendary French scrum half Antoine Dupont – has been scrapped. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
'Dupont's Law' – named after legendary French scrum half Antoine Dupont – has been scrapped. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

‘DUPONT”S LAW’ – the controversial loophole in rugby’s rules which led to a series of boring kick-tennis contests in recent seasons, notably from a Scottish perspective in February’s Six Nations defeat to France – will hopefully become a thing of the past after World Rugby confirmed a series of “fan-focused law changes” earlier today [Thursday], effective from 1st July 2024.

According to World Rugby:

In a rewrite of Law 10.7 relating to players being put onside from kicks in open play, it will no longer be possible for a player to be put onside when an opposition player catches the ball and runs five metres, or passes the ball. Laws 10.1 and 10.4 will make clear that offside players must make an attempt to retreat, creating space for the opposition team to play. This should reduce the amount of kick tennis in the game.

This will mean that the ploy of a player who is in front of a kicker from his or her own team standing still (so long as they start more than 10 metres back from where the ball has come down) until they can rejoin the game when either the kicker gets in front of them or the ball carrier runs five metres, kicks or passes, will no longer be permitted.


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In practical terms, it will stop teams from being able to both build a wall 10 metres out from the ball catcher whilst simultaneously loading their backfield to leave the opposition feeling compelled to adopt a similar strategy rather than risk a turnover in a dangerous part of the field.

Another law change announced earlier today rules that it will no longer be possible to choose a scrum from a free-kick, meaning free-kicks must either be tapped or kicked to encourage more ball in flow.

Finally,  the ‘crocodile roll’  is to be outlawed with sanction of a penalty.

Meanwhile, World Rugby has announced further details of six closed law trials that will operate across World Rugby-run competitions from 1st July, 2024, including the World Rugby U20 Championship, U20 Trophy and Pacific Nations Cup. Unions and competition owners may implement within their own competitions. as a closed trial.

A full review of effectiveness of the trials will be presented to World Rugby’s Executive Board in November to inform decisions regarding wider implementation.

  • Revised on- and off-field sanctions process increasing simplicity, consistency and fan understanding. This features the combination of strong automatic off-field red card sanctions and the ability to replace a red-carded player after 20 minutes.
  • Introduction of the 30-second shot clock for scrum and line-out setting and a maximum of 60 seconds for conversions [a reduction of 30 seconds] aligning with the time permitted for penalty kicks at goal.
  • Protection of the nine at the base of the scrum, ruck and at the maul following successful trials in Major League Rugby in the USA and in elite and community competitions in New Zealand. The nine will not be able to be played while the ball is still near a tackle, ruck or maul, and the offside line at the scrum for the non-putting in scrum-half will be the middle of the tunnel.
  • Ability to mark the ball inside the 22m line from a restart, promoting attacking options.
  • The ball must be played after the maul has been stopped once, not twice.
  • Play on at a line-out if ball not thrown straight but only if line-out is uncontested, aiding the flow of the game.
  • Specialist working groups established for future innovations (work to be completed by November 2024)

A specialist working groups have also been established to further explore areas of game enhancement identified by the Shape of the Game forum for further consideration. Recommendations will be made to Council in November on matters including:

  • Tackle/ruck/breakdown: A major review of the breakdown through the lens of spectacle and safety – e.g. the impact of contesting the ball on the floor, the practice of jackaling as opposed to an upright driving game.
  • Television Match Official (TMO) protocol: Determine the optimal remit for the TMO protocol, while setting new minimum standards for technology providers to promote consistency and independence.
  • Number of replacements: Examine the latest research on the impact of fatigue and the number and timing of replacements in the elite game to determine options that might create more space on the field while improving injury rates.
  • Fan experience: Grow rugby’s audience share via a fan-focused view of how the game is marketed, a consistent approach to presentation of the sport across all media environments and a focus on the moments in the game that really engage fans. This includes a detailed review of the language and terminology that is used within the game and can be viewed as a barrier for audiences.
  • Elite tackle height: Carefully consider the results of the community tackle height trials across 11 national unions globally and consider appropriateness for elite rugby across a range of criteria with player safety the central driver.

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About David Barnes 3960 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

19 Comments

  1. All good though a number of yellows and reds should lead to a number of competitive match bans. Fixed penalty, no argument – and no “friendlies” to count as matches in the ban.

    • I think instead of match-bans it should lead to league point reductions for the club the player plays for.

      Red card = 1 point off your overall standing
      3/4 yellows (does not need to be in one game – just cumulative over the season) = 1 point off

      A red card for two 2 yellows just counts as a yellow.

      This is much more of an incentive to stamp out foul play and an incentive for clubs to practice good tackle technique. Punish the club and the individual – not just the individual.

      Also provides more balance in the punishment: A match ban to a team (lets say Leinster) with huge finances and depth is as not negatively impacted by bans to individuals compared to a side with less resources/player depth.

      This also stops clubs effectively cheating their way past the ban through friendlies – As well as removing this ‘sincere apology’ nonsense and ‘tackle school’ which has demonstrated no evidence of working.

      • Collective punishment for the transgressions of an individual player. That’s bound to be a winner. Let’s go the full hog and bring it into general legal practice.

  2. I would reduce the bench to no more than four replacements and turn the game back to an aerobic sport rather than who can field the biggest land mammiels Thant can’t last eighty minutes that should reduce the severity of injuries IMHO

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  3. One of the main criticisms of refs is the inconsistencies of applications of laws yet world rugby is creating another vague law which is open to interpretation: “ball is still near a tackle, ruck or maul”. Does near mean 1 or 5 metres? Just something else to make the refs job harder.
    For me, the ball should be contestable when the ref shouts “ball is free” or similar so defence, opposition are in no doubt.
    And why scrum halves are becoming a protected species is another matter altogether….

    • good point.
      One thing I really dislike is the caterpillar ruck, when the scrum half at the back has both hands on the ball which is lying next to the rear foot. Then bobs and weaves (no dummy apparently!). he has full control of the ball, play on!

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      • and I also don’t understand how a huge forward is supposed to barge through a ruck on their feet yet stop stone dead when they reach the other side, the scum half and not make contact

  4. some good comments being made, but no-one has mentioned they have yet again tried to force in the 20min red card. This does not really punish clubs and coaches who field thugs – full red cards can (not always) cost a game. That is what makes coaches coach and select differently. And the game loses spectacle is such a stupid argument. Player safety is far far more important, and player safety is enhanced by better techinique and better coaching……….

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    • Very few red cards are the result of thuggery as you suggest. The vast majority are for accidental head contact which still needs to be punished of course. The twenty minute red card is an attempt to achieve a balanced punishment. It’s not perfect but it isn’t there to punish thugs because there are very very few of these in the game nowadays. They simply can’t exist with all the TV cameras in operation.

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      • of course not all red cards are down to thugs. But my point there – and they still exist – are certain players who collect more than a “fair share” of reds and yellows for foul play. Top players, like Lavanini and Farrell to name but two.
        Others make contact because they are told, coached to hit high, target the ball is the euphemism. Inevitably too many such tackles end in head contact. Punish the coaching as well as the player

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        • If players act as thugs (your word) then they will be caught on camera and punished for the thuggery.

          Unless they are the former England captain obviously!

  5. Gosh more tinkering around the edges more ways to make it tough for someone who has not played to watch the game. We need to start from scratch re-write the rule book completely so it is no more than 20 pages (currently 160+) and make the game accessible its the only way we will grow the game.
    Took some footbal loving friends to a game recently – overall comment loved the crowd but most of the time they had no idea what was going on. You need to create a game that a newbie can watch and understand. That’s why American Football is winning and we are losing, personally I find American football boring media dominated and repetitive but in one game I understood what was going on.

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  6. This is good news as far as it goes.

    Further research into use of subs and fatigue is an interesting angle. I’m in the reduce subs to three and would probably go for injury replacement only.

    It’s right to explore all the variables here. As with DuPont Law, unintended consequences arrive very quickly when new laws are made to “speed up the game” and discover they hadn’t thought through how coaches and players respond. Knowing you are only playing 60 or 20 mins has a massive bearing on the size and shape of a player.

    On the tackle level for pros, this is disappointing. Last I looked a pro players brain is the same as a 4th XV player. But the club player has enhanced protection. Not a good look.

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    • Pro players train probably ten times or more often than club players though. They can execute choke tackles and such to a better standard, less risk than amateur players attempting them. They also have better strength and conditioning regimes, necks are stronger and more equipped to protect against concussion. The pro and amateur game are miles apart and it’s right that the laws are different.

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      • It’s a question of safety. Not technique.

        I suspect this has more to do with current litigation process.

        • Poor tackle technique is the cause of a lot of head contacts. So yes you’re right it about safety, technique is a major contributor to that.

  7. They have to take the jackal out the game , it’s a horrendous position and if World Rugby are serious about safety the jackal should have gone long ago. Jackal essentially just a static target and incredibly vulnerable , will be some sore boys later in life who have regularly adopted this position ….
    An upright driving game ….. you mean like old fashioned rucking , why they ever did away with this is beyond me, a dynamic process designed to generate quick ball , legal use of rucking perfectly acceptable to clear out opposition players and much safer than the huge static collisions we see in todays game.

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    • The better-equipped French sides are already returning to power-rucking and aggressive counter-rucking at breakdown time… Goodbye jackals and ball-snaffling breakaways.

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