Rugby Union: Scots experiment with laws to revive game: Radical changes for selected matches include 13-a-side and new points values

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The Independent Online
SCOTTISH rugby yesterday put itself unfamiliarly in the vanguard of radical change with the announcement of experimental laws to be applied in selected matches during the rest of the season. As 13-a-side is top of the list, they would turn the union code into a form of rugby league.

Allan Hosie, the former international referee who as well as being a Scottish Rugby Union committee man is laws adviser to the International Board, has drawn up the experiment on behalf of the SRU so that a paper can be presented to the IB once the current laws moratorium ceases after next year's World Cup.

It is the union's response to the most sterile Five Nations' Championship in years, and specifically the disproportionate effect of penalty goals. So in addition to reducing each team by two, the list includes a change in scoring values to three each for penalties and tries and one for a conversion as opposed to the present values of three, five and two.

'I am well aware that people are more willing to give away three points to avoid giving away seven,' Hosie said yesterday. All penalties for foul play would take place at the centre of the 22-metre line, and the punishment for three repeated defensive infringements in quick succession would be a penalty try.

All players forming a scrummage would have to stay bound on until the scrum ended. Unlimited substitutions, restarting with a tap-kick rather than a kick-off, the alternative of a scrum rather than a line-out and legalised lifting at the line-out complete the experiment.

The SRU has yet to decide in which matches to try its scheme, which is a timely reminder to the IB - meeting in London this week - that dissatisfaction with the laws, not least the ruck / maul experiment, as they stand is universal. The results of the IB's deliberations will be made known tomorrow.