NZ Rugby to trial new rules in school and club rugby

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) will trial a range of law variations in school and club rugby in 2022.

NZR said the aim is to enhance the safety and appeal of the sport and have called the changes Experimental Domestic Safety Law Variations (EDSLVs).

Eight of the fifteen approved EDSLVs will be rolled out nationally across Small Blacks, Teenage Rugby and Senior Rugby; with the other seven being trialled in selected competitions, in consultation with Provincial Unions.

National changes include reducing tackle height, enhancing breakdown and scrums, and ensuring players remain grounded whilst contesting high balls, in a bid to reduce aerial collisions.

NZR's General Manager of Community Rugby, Steve Lancaster, said that the changes are a continuation of NZR's approach of putting participants at the centre of rugby.

"We understand that in order to create quality rugby experiences for all of our participants, we need to develop the game to ensure it meets their needs and abilities.

"The changes for 2022 are intended to preserve the characteristics of the game, while ensuring rugby remains relevant, accessible, and appealing to the 160,000 players, coaches, and referees across the country. It's all part of our plan to future-proof rugby."

Variations will also be introduced in Under 6 to Under 8 Small Blacks rugby, including reducing the field size, which Lancaster says reflects best-practice for the development of young rugby players.

"Small Blacks want to learn how to be better, play with their mates and most importantly, have fun. By reducing field size, we're allowing kids to have more touches of the ball, score more tries and have more opportunities to develop their skills."

Provincial Unions are set to introduce the new developments into school and club rugby from January 1.

Any future application of the EDSLVs will be determined following a review at the conclusion of the 2022 season.