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World Rugby approves Covid-19 laws, including player limits at rucks and mauls

World Rugby's executive committee has approved 10 optional law trials designed to help reduce the risk of Covid-19 tranmission - none of which will affect New Zealand competitions.

Sam Whitelock and Irish lock Devin Toner wrestle for the ball in a maul. Source: Photosport

Unions can apply to implement one or more of the temporary law amendments as domestic trials in line with the world governing body's return to play guidance.

A World Rugby statement said the trials "provide limits to scrum options with no scrum resets, limits for players joining rucks and mauls, time to play the ball at the base of scrums and rucks reduced from five to three seconds and only one movement permitted for a maul."

The trials, underpinned by World Health Organisation guidance, were considered by a specialist Law Review Group consisting of coaches, players, match officials, medics and law specialists following detailed analysis of 60 matches.

World Rugby say the ruck and maul measures could "reduce contact exposure for tight five players by more than 30 per cent, reduced exposure at the ruck by up to 25 per cent and reduce maul exposure by 50 per cent".

"The health and well-being of the rugby family is paramount," said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

"We have extensively evaluated the perceived risk areas within the game in partnership with our unions.

"This has enabled an evidence-based assessment of risk areas and playing positions, which led us to develop optional temporary law amendments."

The 10 optional law trials cover scrum, tackle, ruck and maul.

The two recommendations on tackling are to reinforce the high tackle sanction framework for high tackle offences and to remove the choke tackle from the game.

In addition to the on-field law trials, a number of hygiene measures are recommended for playing and training.

These include mandatory hand and face sanitisation before and after the match, regular sanitisation of the match ball, single-use water bottles, changing kit at halftime, a ban on huddles and celebrations plus the prevention of spitting and nose clearance.

Earlier this week, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson reassured players and coaches New Zealand competitions won't play under any of the optional laws.

Robinson told RNZ the proposal is designed to get the game "safely back on the field in difficult circumstances in the northern hemisphere".

"There don't appear to be any signs of community transmission in New Zealand so our circumstances are quite different and we don't anticipate the need to adopt the law proposals," he said.

"We have been open with World Rugby about this and they understand our unique situation.

"We will continue to manage all health risks with stringent protocols and be lead by our public health authorities.

"The protocols including daily symptom and temperature checks, stringent hygiene and cleaning, contact tracing practices, and asking anyone who feels unwell to stay away, self-isolate and get tested."

-AAP contributed to this report