By Shehan Daniel
Several changes, mainly aimed at player safety, could be in the pipelines for the Under-20 Schools Rugby Tournament on the recommendation of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) through the Minster of Sports, with the tournament to be renamed as Under-19.
The changes being considered include a reduction of playing time to 35 minutes a half and a restriction of players under the age of 18 lining-up in the front-row of the scrum.
SLR Vice-President Lasitha Gunaratne said the recommendation was made so that the schools tournament will be played in line with World Rugby regulations.
“We have recommended through the Minister to make these changes to the regulations, so that it falls in line with World Rugby’s Under-19 rule variations (of the laws of the game handbook),” Gunaratne said.
“We also recommended renaming the tournament as Under-19, since World Rugby identifies Under-20 as adult rugby,” he also said.
Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) Secretary Denzil Darling also confirmed this move adding that discussions with the Sports Minister and the Education Minister were to take place before deciding which changes to implement.
“The tournament will likely be changed to Under-19 next season, as the date of births for the age group anyway fall under the ‘Under-19’ category. There have also been suggestions to restrict players only above the age of 18 to be involved in the front-row of the scrum. Some teams have players who are as young as 15, and face a disadvantage against schools with older players.
There is also an issue that some schools don’t have players, so we need to consider that. We will engage in discussions with the Sports Minister and the Minister of Education before deciding which changes to make,” Darling said.
Other regulations in the Under-19 variations to rules in the laws of the game handbook include limiting the movement of a scrum to 1.5 metres, the sanction for infringement being a free-kick and the releasing of the ball from scrum – a player must not intentionally keep the ball in the scrum once the team has heeled the ball and controls it at the base of the scrum – and the restriction on wheeling the scrum.