"The IRB Council's decision to implement a global trial of Experimental Law Variations represents an important milestone for the future of the game," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"It vindicates the process that was adopted by Council in 2004 for future law amendments. The Council congratulated the Law Project Group on its unprecedented work over the past two years.
"It was also agreed that the sanctions ELVs (reduction of sanctions to free kicks from penalty kicks where possible) that were not approved for global trials would be further trialled in a selected elite Northern Hemisphere competition in the 2008/09 season.
"The Southern Hemisphere will continue to play under the various ELV programme environments that exist in that part of the world at present," he added.
"It would be unfair to change the playing environment under which countries in the south are currently playing in competitions such as the Super 14.
"Not one of the Council representatives was against the global implementation of an ELV programme of some description.
"Many of the ELVs received unanimous approval as they had clearly shown potential to be beneficial to the game thus meriting a further trial at all levels around the world."
The announcement of the worldwide trial of ELVs came following an IRB Council meeting in Dublin on Thursday.
Lapasset added: "The Laws Project Group had recommended a global trial of all of the ELVs but there were differing opinions between the Council Members on some of the ELVs in the area of the tackle and ruck, maul, sanctions and offside.
"The key point here was that the Council Members did not dismiss these ELVs outright but believed that further consideration and trials were necessary.
"This is particularly true of the sanctions ELVs which have not been trialled by senior Unions in the north but which have been received favourably by players and coaches that have played under them in the Southern Hemisphere.
"The Laws Project Group has been tasked to closely monitor the global trial with the assistance of its Member Unions. It will also work with the Senior Unions in the north to deliver and analyse the sanctions ELVs in an elite Northern Hemisphere competition."
In November of next year, the IRB Council will review all the ELVs that will undergo global trial, along with the sanctions ELVs that will undergo approved trials in specific competitions.
The council will then decide, at this meeting, if all or any of the ELVs should be accepted into full law.
Those SANZAR Unions that are currently experimenting with ELV trials in the Southern Hemisphere - in competitions such as the Super 14 and Vodacom Cup - will be allowed to continue those trials including the sanctions ELVs until the end of the global trial of the approved ELVs (August 1, 2009).
ELVS TO BE TRIALLED WORLDWIDE:
- Assistant Referees can assist referees in any manner required when appointed by a match organiser
Posts and flags around the field
- The corner posts are no longer considered to be in touch in-goal except when a ball is grounded against the post
Lineout and throw
- If a team puts the ball back into their own 22 and the ball is subsequently kicked directly into touch there is no gain of ground
- A quick throw may be thrown in straight or towards the throwing team's own goal line
- There is no restriction on the number of players who can participate in the lineout from either side (minimum of two)
- The receiver in a lineout must stand 2 metres back from the lineout
- The player who is in opposition to the player throwing in the ball may stand in the area between the 5 metre line and touch line but must be 2 metres away from the lineout
- Lineout players may pre-grip a jumper before the ball is thrown in
- The lifting of lineout jumpers is permitted
- Players are able to defend a maul by pulling it down
- Remove reference in Law to heads and shoulders not to be lower than hips
- Introduction of an offside line five metres behind the hindmost feet of the scrum
- Scrum half offside lines (must be in close proximity to the scrum as present law or must retreat five metres)
ELVS TO BE TRIALLED IN AN ELITE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE COMPETITION:
- For all offences other than offside, not entering through the gate, and Law 10 - 'Foul Play', the sanction is a free kick
Tackle and ruck
- If the ball is unplayable at the breakdown, the side that did not take the ball into contact will receive a free kick
- If a maul becomes unplayable, the team not in possession at the start of the maul receives a free kick
ELVS TO BE REFERRED BACK TO LPG FOR FURTHER ANALYSIS AND POSSIBLE EXPERIMENTATION:
Lineout and throw
- Incorrect throw (not straight) the sanction is a free kick
Tackle and ruck
- Offside line occurs immediately at the tackle
- Players who are on their feet can play the ball with their hands
- There are two penalty kicks warded at the tackle and ruck - offside and foul play
- Reference to unfair play added to Law 15 (tackle: ball carrier brought to ground)
- Players are only put onside after a tackle when they retreat past the tackle or the ball has moved five metres away from the tackle
Kick-off and restart kicks
- Incorrect kick-offs and restart kicks result in a free kick for the opposition