Attached is the most recent Law clarification from the IRB. It addresses replacement front rows and what should happen in a game with eight allowed substitute/replacements when uncontested scrums are ordered. This is consistent with the USA Internal Variation that has been in place for a couple of years. Currently the IRB is trialing the use of eight replacements in selected International competitions.
The essence is that if a team exhausts its supply of trained front row players and the referee must order uncontested scrums, the player whose departure caused the uncontested scrums may not be replaced.
With the introduction of 23 player squads, is it the intention that Law 3.14(d) is applicable? We believe it should be applicable, as otherwise a team can still contrive to have uncontested scrums and still remain with 15 players.
Furthermore is 3.14(d) is not applied it raises complicated Law issues when all eight substitutes have been utilised.
Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
The Designated Members consider that the provisions of Law 3.14(d) should apply when 23 players are nominated for a match.
Law 3.14(d) states “A provision may be introduced that where uncontested scrums are ordered as a result of there being no suitably trained and experienced front row replacement for any reason, the team concerned shall not be entitled to replace the player whose departure caused uncontested scrums.”