World Rugby's Executive Committee has approved 10 optional law trials for member nations to implement to minimise the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus through player contact, the global governing body said on Thursday.
The trials are designed to reduce contact in rucks, scrums and mauls by 25%-50% and unions will be allowed to implement temporary law amendments at elite or community levels of the game.
"The World Rugby Executive Committee has approved 10 optional law trials which are designed to provide national member unions with COVID-19 transmission risk reduction options if required," it said in a statement.
"Temporary law trials relating to the scrum, tackle, ruck and maul were approved along with a package of best-practice match hygiene measures. Each measure aims to reduce individual cumulative exposure to these contact activities.
"The trials provide limits to scrum options with no scrum resets, limits for players joining rucks and mauls, time to play the ball at the base of scrums and rucks reduced from five to three seconds and only one movement permitted for a maul."
Additional measures to improve hygiene were also approved, including sanitising the ball and not allowing players to spit.
Coaches, players, match officials, medics and law specialists were part of a Law Review Group that decided not to make them mandatory worldwide as each nation had different protocols to fight COVID-19.
"We have extensively evaluated the perceived risk areas within the game. This has enabled an evidence-based assessment of risk areas and playing positions, which led us to develop temporary law amendments," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.
"Unions can apply to implement one or more of these amendments on a domestic basis according to the respective government directives relating to COVID-19."