World Rugby has collaborated with some of the biggest names in
international rugby to launch an educational resource to support the
practical implementation of the breakdown law application guideline announced in April.

the objective of making the one of the game’s most dynamic and
difficult facets simpler to play, coach and officiate, the resource has
been developed with the input of leading coaches Joe Schmidt, Ian
Foster, Richie Gray and Russell Earnshaw, International Rugby Players
representatives Josh Beaumont and Victor Vito and international referees
Wayne Barnes and Jaco Peyper.  

Available via,
the resource provides step-by-step guidance for one of the most dynamic
and complex areas of the game outlining guidance for the tackler, the
ball carrier, the first arriving player (jackler), other arriving
players and dealing with foul play.

The key focus areas are:

  • Tacklers will be expected to release the ball carrier and roll away immediately in the direction of the touchline
  • Ball carriers will be allowed one dynamic movement after being tackled with an onus on presenting or releasing the ball more quickly
  • Stand-up tackle: Ball carrier will be given time to get to
    ground. A tackle will be called when the ball carrier clearly gets a
    knee to the ground. A maul will be called when defenders stop the
    momentum of the ball carrier and successfully hold him/her up. Maul side
    entry and collapse will be strictly refereed
  • Jackler: First arriving player must enter legally, be on
    their feet and on the ball, with an attempt to lift it. Likely to be
    rewarded more quickly
  • Other arriving players: Side entry will be refereed. ‘L’ angle entry (see guidance) expectation with players required to ‘drive not dive’
  • Foul play will continue to be a priority in the interests of player safety

All unions have received the guidance and New Zealand’s Super
Rugby Aotearoa, which kicks off on Saturday, will be the first
competition to implement the World Rugby law application guideline.

referee Wayne Barnes said: “We are not changing the laws of the game,
but we are aligned in our mission to stricter enforcement of key areas
to create faster, attacking ball and a fairer contest.”

defence coach Richie Gray added: “This resource has been developed by
those who are involved in the game on a daily basis. It is designed to
assist coaches, players and referees with alignment that the breakdown
is coached in the spirit of the laws, is played in a positive and
accurate manner, and refereed consistently across competitions and at
all levels.”

International Rugby Players representative and England international Josh Beaumont added: “There
are so many different moving parts at the breakdown. When we were
discussing the area with the players, it was very apparent that it was
not a law issue, but an issue of alignment and clarity for players and

“This educational resource
will play a strong role in aligning the officiating approach, aligning
coaches and players in the approach to the breakdown both in terms of
player welfare and reducing penalties, but I also believe that it will
improve the overall quality of the product for everyone.”

co-author, breakdown specialist and former Scotland and South Africa
coach Richie Gray said: “As I coach, I believe that we have to invest
the time to coach the breakdown better. In turn, this should make it
easier for the referee who has to make split-second decisions.

project has been a real team effort across the coaching, playing and
refereeing fraternity to achieve clarity on what we expect from the ball
carrier, the first arriving player (or jackler), the angle of entry for
other arriving players and so on in order that we build a consistent
picture for referees on the field and for coaches to coach their players

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont
concluded: “The breakdown is the most dynamic facet of the game and was
increasingly difficult for a player, coach and match official, while
being responsible for nine per cent of match injuries at the elite

“We therefore set out to identify ways to reduce the risk
of injury, while promoting a fair contest for the ball and enhancing the
experience for all. As announced in April the specialist Law Review
Group felt that the most practical approach was to reinforce existing
law, rather than law change.

“The educational guidance is an
exceptional piece of work. I would like to thank all involved and look
forward to seeing it in action in the Super Rugby Aotearoa in New
Zealand this weekend.”

World Rugby is educating its international
referee panel on the change in emphasis and collaborating with
international teams and unions to ensure alignment and understanding.

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