SCRUM SKULDUGGERY: Referees will try to ensure the set-piece is safe, fair and swift
LONDON, 8 Sept - There are no fundamental changes to the laws of the game for Rugby World Cup 2015 but referees have been asked to keep an eye on several key areas relating to safety and to intensify their policing of the controversial area of scrums.
Here is a brief summary of four important areas on which referees will be focusing their attention during the tournament.
Since RWC 2011, governing body World Rugby has changed the sequence of calls used by the referees to set up a scrum in a bid to improve safety.
This has largely been successful but critics still feel scrums are sometimes taking too long to finish and that some teams use them as a way of running down the clock at the end of a match.
Referees at the World Cup have been told to take care that scrum-halfs feed the ball in straight so that there is a fair contest between hookers.
They will also instruct players to use the ball quickly at the back of scrum when a scrum is stationary.
The laws of rugby say a player must not tackle (or try to tackle) an opponent above the line of the shoulders, even if the tackle starts below that point. This is seen as foul play and a penalty is awarded.
Referees at the World Cup have been told to be tough with sanctions every time the head or neck is deliberately grabbed or choked. The offending player runs the risk of receiving a yellow or red card.
CHALLENGING PLAYERS IN THE AIR
The sight of players jumping for the ball in the air after a defensive or attacking kick has become much more common in recent years.
But there is a danger of serious injury when players do not compete fairly.
Referees at the World Cup will allow the game to play on if they feel there has been a fair challenge - with both players genuinely trying to catch the ball - even if one lands dangerously.
They will award a penalty if there has been a genuine challenge but a player has timed his jump wrongly and unfairly impeded his opponent.
But referees have been instructed to show a yellow card if there has been no fair challenge or contest and the player is pulled down landing on his back or side.
They will show a red card if the same thing happens and a player lands on his head, neck or shoulder.
Rolling mauls are still a major part of the attacking game of many teams.
Referees have been asked to look out for players who enter a maul ahead of the ball carrier in a bid to ease his way to the try-line.
This is sometimes hard for spectators to spot in the melee but it is regarded as obstruction and is penalised with a penalty.
Referees will also be watching closely to make sure a ball carrier is properly bound to a maul. This does not always happen after a set move following a lineout.