Universality of sanction remains the central principle and effective from June 1, 2012 (or following the completion of tournaments that cross that date), the revised regulations will deliver an updated universal table of sanctions which will be applicable at all levels of the game around the world.
These were recommended by representatives of the playing, coaching, officiating, rugby media and judicial fraternity at the IRB Morality Conference in March of this year.
At the same time, the changes have delivered a revised disciplinary process that for the first time allows greater flexibility for the differing disciplinary process requirements of the game at elite and community levels.
Key principles of the revised regulation 17:
• The regulation now distinguishes between mandatory core principles and general provisions
• Universality of sanctions are enshrined at all levels of the game as is the principle that all matches are equal for sanctioning purposes
• Citing commissioners are required for all international matches
• The previous core process for sanctions has been endorsed with some clarifications which recognise the requirement for judicial discretion
• A general right of appeal for all host Unions/tournament organisers has been introduced
• An IRB supervisory right of appeal for international matches and in specified restricted circumstances has been approved
• In general, Unions/tournament organisers have been given more flexibility to accommodate their domestic/tournament requirements provided the core principles, universality and the laws of the game are strictly adhered to
As part of a general restructuring, the misconduct rules have been moved to regulation 20, while the IRB Code of conduct and procedural guidelines for judicial tribunals have been consolidated into regulation 18.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Regulation 17 has served the sport well over the past seven years in delivering an appropriate and fair framework to address on field foul play to protect our players.
"However, the global rugby landscape continues to evolve at elite and community levels. There is increased scrutiny of rugby's laws and regulations from fans and the media.
"Player welfare and upholding the values of the game are of paramount importance as we reach out to more men, women and children around the world."
He added: "I am confident that the revised regulation 17, dealing with foul play, delivered following the full consultation of our member Unions, is representative of a sport that is founded on the values of discipline, respect and integrity.
"It will allow for greater consistency across the board, while recognising the practical differences between elite and community rugby.
"I would like to thank the Unions for their full commitment and enthusiasm to a process that will deliver an enhanced and strengthened regulation that will further promote consistency, protect our players and serve the game well at all levels as the sport grows in popularity and appeal."
A review of the regulation was requested by the IRB Council to recognise a vastly changed rugby landscape, in particular at elite level since the introduction of the modern disciplinary regulation in 2005.
Since then rugby participation has experienced unprecedented growth with now more than 5.5 million men, women and children participating.
Delegates at the IRB Morality Conference considered the full spectrum of the disciplinary sanctioning regime under regulation 17 and their recommendations were adopted without change by the IRB Council.
A process of game-wide education of the disciplinary process and consistency of application of that process in both Sevens and the fifteen-a-side game will be delivered in conjunction with member Unions.
IRB Morality Conference -
Playing Representatives: Maggie Alphonsi (England), Danny Grewcock (England), David Barnes (IRPA), Al Baxter (Australia), John Smit (South Africa), Jean Claude Skrela (France), Didier Retière (France), Agustin Pichot (Argentina), Chris Paterson (Scotland), Omar Hassanein (IRPA), Rhodri Gomer-Davies (Wales), Phil Orr (Ireland), Carlo Checcinato (Italy), Graham Mourie (IRB Rugby Committee Chairman)
Coaching Representatives: Robbie Deans (Australia), Jean Claude Skrela (France), Joe Lydon (Wales).
Refereeing Representatives: Paddy O'Brien (IRB), Ed Morrison (England)