Mitigation would not be a factor in some red card ban cases

World Rugby is to trial a new red card process which could see an end to mitigation having an impact on subsequent bans.

The trail will see automatic sanctions to make bans more consistent while protecting player welfare. Foul play will be an automatic two week ban and aggravated foul play (a highly reckless action such as a no arms tackle) will be an automatic four week ban.

Read more: World Rugby law changes

No mitigation in incidents will be applied in the automatic sanctions. The governing body say under this new application around 70% of red cards given in 2024 so far would have had automatic sanctions.

In more serious incidents a disciplinary committee would still be in use. They would then determine the sanction, as is currently in place.

The trials around red cards will also include the possibility of a red-carded player being replaced by another player after 20 minutes. The 20 minute red card has already been trialled in the southern hemisphere. Current trials with the 20 minute red card show a reduction in the amount of red cards shown and a 37% reduction in tackle school attendees.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This streamlined off-field sanction process has been designed by the game for the game and comes directly from clear feedback at the Shape of the Game conference that the current rugby disciplinary process needs streamlining to be simpler for players and fans to understand, while upholding welfare and game integrity imperatives.

“This is a trial, and it is important to remember that the ability to replace a red-carded player after 20 minutes is coupled with sanctions that are strong, clear and will not be mitigated down. This supports consistency and agility, by making the disciplinary process less influenced by lawyers. We look forward to seeing the results, including feedback from the game.”

The trials will take place in competitions like the U20 World Championships.

They will also be trialling five other potential law changes. These are:

  • Shot clock amendments
  • Protection of the nine at the base of the scrum, ruck and at the maul
  • Ability to mark the ball inside the 22m line from a restart
  • The ball must be played after the maul has been stopped once
  • Play on at a lineout if ball not thrown straight

This also comes after the governing body announced three law changes. There have been amendments to the free kick and ‘Dupont’s law’, while the crocodile roll has been banned.

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