New/old ruck laws

Ian Diddams reviews the latest law directives around the ruck, and looks at how you might adjust your training sessions to help your players become more effective in this contact area.

In their post-January 1st 2023 law directives, World Rugby highlighted several areas that would impact the ruck.

These, in summary, are:

Referees will be asked to be strong on negative player actions. For example, trapping players into the ruck, and first arriving players (the jackler) not aiming to play the ball.

  • Penalising players with hands on the floor to support body weight.
  • Off feet: Players are off their feet when any other part of the body is supported by the ground or players on the ground.
  • On feet: Players are on their feet if no other part of their body is supported by the ground or players on the ground.
  • Ruck law 15.12: Players must endeavour to remain on their feet throughout the ruck.

These are not, of course, new laws – they all already existed in the law book. These directives then are merely a reminder to all that these areas should be emphasised and acted upon, especially by referees.


With that in mind then, what areas should the community coach be considering? In reality, it’s “more of the same”. These are the laws and areas that players will already be playing to, so nothing needs to change in training. However, a focus on good technique and practice would ensure nobody ends up being penalised through an accident or misunderstanding. Sessions then could include the following to aid this :


As part of a warm-up, or a small link session after that, run a small circuit to develop this area. The RCW article Core on”, whilst discussing scrummaging, is still valid here, particularly as we are concentrating on the ruck area.

Some “homework activities” are provided in this RCW article on core stability.


Small-sided games to work on jackle technique and remaining on the feet. A variation of this RCW jackle-tastic game could start with single players jackling the ball, before moving to the game as described, which really develops the key principles of jackling and rucking so as not to become off-feet.


We want players to remain on their feet at the ruck – this RCW session, Bang, Bang, Bang develops this technique.


Finally, a small-sided game to use the techniques honed in these practices in a game-related environment is vital. Dan’s ruck, pass, ruck activity contains such a game and its development.

Including some, if not all, of these areas throughout training sessions can help your players maintain their ruck techniques and minimise any chance of leaking penalties as referees look to implement the areas World Rugby has directed attention to.


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