The Rugby Use It or Lose It Law Explained

Have you ever heard of the Use It or Lose It Law in rugby? This law holds that a team has to release the ball within five seconds once possession of the ball is won cleanly at the back of a ruck. It forms a key part of Law 15; The Ruck.

What is the Use It or Lose It Law in Rugby?

The Use It or Lose It Law in rugby is a rule that states that a team must release the ball within five seconds after clearly having won a ruck. This law was put in place to prevent teams from wasting time and stalling for additional time to take a breath and solidify defensive patterns. By implementing this rule, referees are able to keep the game flowing and maintain a fair playing field for both teams by allowing proper use of the ball in possession. Also it actively speeds up the 9 or scrum-half to use possession and not delay tactics.

When Should the Use It or Lose it Law Be Applied?

The Use It or Lose It Law should be applied when a team has clearly won possession from the ruck. Once this time frame is exceeded, the referee should award a scrum to the opposing team from where the ruck was formed. This law encourages both teams to keep the game moving and in theory creates more ball in play time by releasing the ball as soon as possible.

What are Some Examples of the Use It or Lose It Law in Action?

During play, you will often hear a referee call ‘USE IT’ once a ruck has been clearly won by either team. When the law was originally introduced referees had a tendancy to count down from 5 seconds the moment they deemed the ball to be cleanly won. This practice has tailed off a little as opposition teams were taking it upon themselves to do their own counts, forcing the hand of the referee to give a decsion. Referee’s have actively discouraged this and has left to the referee’s no longer counting down.

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