02 Jan 2018
World Rugby's new law book has come into being with the New Year 2018. It is a great achievement, of which World Rugby deserves to be proud.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
It is a feat that the old International Rugby Board did not manage, despite three eminent men's efforts.
The three were Dr Danie Craven, president of the South African Rugby Board, a man with a great knowledge of the laws who pressed for several changes to the laws which are now taken for granted, scientist Hermas Evans, a former president of the Welsh Rugby Union, and Harry McKibben of Ireland, a 1938 B&I Lion, a lawyer who had been president of the Irish Rugby Football Union.
They worked hard for several months, at Stellenbosch and overseas, handed in their manuscript to the IRB, and never heard of it again.
This time, World Rugby has welcomed the simplification with open arms and the sound of trumpets. The man who headed the task was World Rugby's Mark Harrington. It was some two years in the making with input from throughout the rugby world.
It then went through quick stages through World Rugby's committees and its council which put their imprimatur on it.
It has been a sterling effort.
It is shorter and clearer - not bedside reading but a wonderful improvement. It's not a change in laws, just a change in expression.
Bill Beaumont, the chairman of World Rugby 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 an extensive and important process.
"I believe what they have produced will make a big difference to the game as we seek to make rugby more accessible to all."