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Brisbane clubs trial experimental laws
January 26, 2007

Brisbane rugby club presidents and coaches have voted to trial some of the new experimental laws designed to make rugby an even better game to watch and play.

The laws changes were devised under the auspices of the IRB by former Wallaby coach Rod Macqueen and other international coaches working with former NZ Test referee Paddy O'Brien, now the IRB's referees manager.

Their objective was to come up with a simpler, shorter and more effective set of laws while retaining the essential features of rugby. The experiment also aimed to speed up the game and take the subjectiveness out of referees' decision making.

Macqueen says many laws have been added to rugby over the years but few if any are ever taken out. The review came up with a number of proposed changes, including three that will be trialled in Brisbane.

1. Downgrading most penalty offences to free-kicks

2. Backs must be 5m behind rear foot at scrum

3. Ball cannot be passed back into 22 and kicked out on the full

As well, touch judges will be allowed to alert players and the referee to breaches of the off-side law.

If successful in various trials around the world, the new laws will be introduced globally after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Paddy O'Brien says the changes are a necessary response to professionalism as some of the existing laws are becoming unrefereeable in the modern game.

A meeting of Brisbane coaches and club presidents this week was addressed by Macqueen and immediately embraced the idea of testing the recommended changes during the Brisbane pre-season before a followup review meeting with Macqueen on February 28, ahead of the start of the Premier competition on March 3.

They also want the experiment broadened to Division One First Grade - directly under Premier - to make it easier for players and referees who move between the two grades.

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