Examining the effects of a variation to the ruck law in Rugby Union


  • Kirsten Spencer Auckland University of Technology
  • Hannah Brady Auckland University of Technology




Rule change, Analysis, Performance


Arias, Argudo, and Alonso’s review (2011) found that when rule changes were introduced to achieve a certain outcome, less than 60% were actually accomplished. Reflecting on past law changes in Rugby Union, the subject ELV is similar to the ‘use it or lose it’ law that was applied to mauls in 1994 (the aim being to increase open play and encourage continuity). Interestingly the number of mauls actually decreased as they resulted in greater possibility of turnovers (Quarrie & Hopkins, 2007) and the ruck became the more favoured play. Many of the studies which have examined rule modification, for example, Eaves and Hughes (2003), Eaves, Hughes and Lamb (2005) and Quarrie and Hopkins (2007) have concluded that the changes ultimately achieved a different outcome from that predicted (Arias, Argudo & Alonso, 2011). Thus emphasising the need for this analysis. The aim of this study is to determine whether limiting the time the ball is allowed to remain stationary improves the continuity of the game through increasing the time the ball is in open play.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Kirsten Spencer, Auckland University of Technology

Department of Sport & Recreation, Senior Lecturer, Coach Development Centre & Sports Performance Research Institute NZ


allblacks.com. (2012, August 6). New laws announced at ITMCup season launch. Retrieved August 6, 2012 from allblacks.com: http://www.allblacks.com/index.cfm?layout=displayNews&newsArticle=20067

Arias, J. L., Argudo, F. M., & Alonso, J. I. (2011). Review of rule modification in sport. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 10, 1-8.

Eaves, S. J., & Hughes, M. D. (2003). Patterns of play of international rugby union teams before and after the introduction of professional status. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport , 3 (2), 103-111. https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2003.11868281

Eaves, S. J., Hughes, M. D., & Lamb, K. L. (2005). The consequences of the introduction of professional playing status on game action variables in international Northern Hemisphere rugby union football. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport , 5 (2), 55-86. https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2005.11868328

Hughes, M. D., & Bartlett, R. M. (2002). The use of performance indicators in performance analysis. Journal of Sport Sciences , 20 (10), 739-754. https://doi.org/10.1080/026404102320675602

International Rugby Board. (2012). Law 16 : Ruck. Retrieved August 3, 2012 from IRB Laws of the Game: http://www.irblaws.com/2012/index.php?amendment=1

International Rugby Board. (2012). Laws of the game: Rugby union. Dublin, Ireland: International Rugby Board.

International Rugby Board. (2011). Rugby World Cup 2011: Statistical review and match analysis. Dublin: International Rugby Board.

International Rugby Board. (2012). Statistical review and match analysis: 2012 RBS 6 Nations. Dublin: International Rugby Board.

IRB.com. (2012, May 15). IRB and unions sanction global law trials. Retrieved August 6, 2012 from IRB.com: http://www.irb.com/newsmedia/mediazone/pressrelease/newsid=2062222.html#irb+unions+sanction+global+law+trials

Kew, F. (1987). Contested rules: An explanation of how games change. International Review for the Sociology of Sport , 22 (2), 125-135. https://doi.org/10.1177/101269028702200205

Kew, F. (1990). The development of games: An endogenous explanation. International Review for the Sociology of Sport , 25 (4), 251-267. https://doi.org/10.1177/101269029002500401

Malcolm, D., Sheard, K., & White, A. (2000). The changing structure and culture of English rugby union football. Culture, Sport, Society , 3 (3), 63-87. https://doi.org/10.1080/14610980008721879

Quarrie, K. L., & Hopkins, W. G. (2007). Changes in player characteristics and match activities in Bledisloe Cup rugby union from 1972 to 2004. Journal of Sports Sciences , 25 (8), 895-903. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410600944659

Tilley, D. (2006). RFU Laws Laboratory. Technical Journal , 3 (2).


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Spencer, K., & Brady, H. (2015). Examining the effects of a variation to the ruck law in Rugby Union. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 10(2), 550–562. https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2015.102.02



Performance Analysis of Sport