Referee & Laws Committee: 2021 Fall Law Guidance and Changes

World Rugby has announced three recent changes to the Laws of the Game: Goal-line drop out trial, 50:22 kick trial, and tights allowance for all players. Please see below guidance from the USA Rugby Match Management Working Group on how these new elements will be officiated.

The Goal-line drop out and 50:22 kick law trials will not be applied for Sevens at any level. Separately, there has been confusion on what is allowed at lineouts when the team not in possession chooses not to maul. For full description on this and the law trials, please visit

Law Guidance and Changes

No Maul at Lineout?

The Referee & Laws Committee continue to review teams choosing not to defend at lineouts. As in other phases of play, if the ball carrier isn’t stopped, the ball carrier gets to keep going. It is not the referee’s job to stop the ball carrier.

Paraphrasing the Game Management Guidelines:

  • The team winning the lineout may move forward with the ball in possession of their foremost player. The opposition may engage to form a maul or tackle the ball carrier.
  • The opposition may create a gap at a lineout to avoid creating a maul but must not step back from the line-of-touch until the lineout ends (penalty).
  • Once the team in possession transfers the ball back, the referee must tell them to "Use it'. They must then play the ball out immediately (turnover scrum).

The prohibition on stepping back to avoid mauling before the lineout ends is to be strictly enforced. When the opponents do not engage at lineout, referees should not penalize the team with the ball for obstruction nor for creating a "flying wedge' if they advance as a group with the ball carrier leading. We encourage teams to play rugby, not avoid contact.


World Rugby has moved the text on allowed clothing “Cotton blend long tights or leggings, with single inside leg seam under their shorts and socks” from applying only for women to now applying for all players. USA Rugby referees will not be inspecting labels to determine the amount of cotton, but tights must not be slippery. Tights are to protect legs, not make players difficult to tackle. Seams on the outside of the leg will not be allowed, but seamless tights are permitted.

Global Law Trials and Sevens

World Rugby has announced that some of the Global Law Trials will not apply to Sevens rugby. There will be no goal line drop-outs in Sevens. The trial “50:22” law will not be applied for Sevens. Kicks that go into touch and qualify for “50:22” will not be thrown in by the kicking team.

Notes: World Rugby has not yet updated their Laws website under Sevens Variations to reflect this change. Additional information on all the Global Law Trials can be found at

For questions, please contact your Local Referee Organization. If they can’t resolve your issue, write to

Match Management Working Group, November 2021