Rugby - South Africa to implement new rules early

The South African Rugby Union hope to give the Springboks a head start over their international rivals by fast-tracking the implementation of new laws from Friday.

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A key feature of the International Rugby Board's (IRB) new regulations, to be applied globally on Aug. 1, is a revised scrum engagement sequence designed to clean up what has been a problematic area of the game this season, as well as to reduce the risk of injury.

In a statement released on Tuesday, SARU said it took the decision to speed up the introduction of the laws to assist the Springboks ahead of the end of year northern hemisphere tour and to help Super Rugby franchises prepare for the 2014 season.

The regulations will get their first use in the Currie Cup, South Africa's premier domestic competition, on Friday.

As part of the revised rules, props will be required to pre-bind with their opponents before the "hit", resulting in the scrum call from the referee to be changed from "crouch, touch, set" to "crouch, bind, set".

In the bind, props must not grip their opponent's chest, arm, sleeve or collar.

Referees will also be required to ensure straighter feeds into the scrum to help make the set-piece more competitive.

Other new laws include the match-day doctor for tests will be the sole adjudicator on whether a player has a blood injury, and all players diagnosed with or suspected of having concussion need to be removed from the match and may not return.

Yellow cards may also be erased from a player's disciplinary record in the case of mistaken identity, while red cards could be dropped if a judicial officer believes the offence did not warrant a dismissal.

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