Front Row Replacement Law Revised

Reminder to all Clubs:


The following recommendation from USA Rugby Competitions Committee was approved by the Rugby Committee and the Board of Directors and is in force for all matches that lead in any way to a USA Rugby National Championship.

Attached is the new version of IRB Law 3. We have adopted the Union Specific Variations as they pertain to front row replacements as detailed below:

The following competition regulation applies for any match that leads in any way to a USA Rugby National Championship.

• All matches shall be governed by IRB Law 3 with respect to substitutions and front row replacements. In particular, Law 3.14 “Union Specific Variations” will apply to front row replacements.

• Failure to have three trained and experienced front-row players at the start of a match will result in a forfeit.

• Teams shall submit a match roster nominating a maximum of 23 players – 15 starting players and a maximum of eight reserves.

• The table below indicates the required numbers of suitably trained and experienced front row players for different numbers of players on the match roster

Number of Players on the roster Required number of suitably trained and experienced Front row players
15 3
16, 17 or 18 4
19, 20 or 21 5
22 or 23 6

• Should a team lose all of their available front row players, then uncontested scrums will take place but the team opting out of the set-piece will not be able to replace the injured player – forcing them to continue with only fourteen players. (Note – This is a change to the existing Laws and ensures that a team going to uncontested scrums does not gain an advantage.)


(a) A Union having jurisdiction (or where a match or competition is played between teams
from two or more Unions those Unions by agreement between them) may implement
variations to Law 3 .4 for matches below international level as set out in 3(b) and/or 3 (c)
below .

(b) When 22 or 23 players are nominated in a team there must be sufficient front row players
to play at hooker, tight-head prop and loose-head prop who are suitably trained and
experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row
position is required, the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.

(c) A provision may be introduced that where uncontested scrums are ordered as result of
there being no suitably trained and experienced front row replacement for any reason, the
team concerned play with not more than 14 players

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