World Rugby have confirmed they will be trialing a new scrum law for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations, aimed at reducing the risk of neck injuries for hookers.

The law is being introduced to lessen the force of 'axial loading' on hookers’ spines and necks at scrums when an estimated 100kg of force is the norm at elite level.

When a pack leans forward during the ‘bind’ phase, enormous force transmits through the spine and neck of the number 2.

While the practice of ‘axial loading' was banned by World Rugby three years ago, it’s still commonly occurring and this has now been highlighted by the International Rugby Players organisation.

The new trial will see a free-kick awarded against hookers who don't keep one foot extended towards the opposition until the referee calls 'set'.

It's believed this 'brake foot' will provide stability for hookers, taking weight off their necks.

The trial to take place in the men's, women's and Under-20 Six Nations this season, following consultation with the International Players Association, leading players, including international hookers, scrum coaches and match officials.

"We want rugby to be the best it can be for those playing and watching the game and this trial will enable us to understand whether we can positively impact both game and welfare outcomes during the three Six Nations Championships," said World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin.

"This builds on voluntary adoption by teams and greater vigilance by match officials in recent elite competitions and we would like to thank Six Nations Rugby and all the participating teams for embracing the trial and we look forward to seeing the results."

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