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Stricter penalties for foul play ATWORLD Cup.

Byline: Andy Howell Rugby correspondent

Warren Gatland's Wales stars are facing a law enforcement clampdown at the World Cup.

World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board) have ordered referees and their assistants to work together to ensure foul play is strictly penalised with player safety being described as "paramount".

The power-brokers also voiced concern the current laws were not being applied properly for high tackles, grabbing players by the neck at mauls, challenging for high balls, dealing with crooked feeds at scrums, obstruction at mauls and questioned the communication of referees with players at stationary scrums.

The concerns have prompted World Rugby to issue a series of videos highlighting what is legal and illegal, the gravity of the offence and its recommended sanction.

It has decided any player making a high or so-called choke tackle around the neck runs the risk of being sin-binned or sent off and deemed dangerous clean-outs around the neck at rucks and mauls must be penalised.

Sanctions for challenging players who are jumping for the ball in the air have also been rammed home to match officials.

Yellow cards will be issued if there's no contest and a player is pulled down, landing on his back or side.

There was an outcry during this year's Six Nations when Scotland's Finn Russell was sin-binned for taking Wales outside-half Dan Biggar out in the air with a dangerous challenge at Murrayfield.

Biggar landed on his head and shoulder but thankfully escaped injury.

However, he maintained his opposite number should have been dismissed much to the disdain of some Scottish supporters, who launched a campaign after Russell was subsequently suspended by a disciplinary panel.

The laws stated an offender should be dismissed if it's not a fair challenge, there is no contest and his opponent lands on his head, neck or shoulder, which Biggar did.

Wales centre Jonathan Davies later joined the No.10 in the cooler after being yellow-carded by New Zealand referee Glen Jackson following a tangle with Johnnie Beattie as the Scotland No.8 jumped for the ball but his offence seemed tame in comparison to Russell's challenge on Biggar.

Now officials have been told to award a penalty if it's a firm challenge but wrongly timed with no pulling down of the player.

Referees have also been told to ensure all feeds to the scrum from the scrum-half are credible with free-kicks being awarded for the crooked put-ins which have been the norm for years.

No.8 forwards will also be ordered to use the ball if it is at their feet at stationary scrums or run the risk of the referee blowing up and awarding a turnover.

Penalties will continue to be awarded for blocking, by players who join a maul in front of the ballcarrier, but the so-called "truck and trailer", when a player detaches and then reattaches to the back of a maul will be punished with a freekick.

Watch Finn Russell take out Dan Biggar in the air....

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 16, 2015
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