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1. Each team has no more than 15 players in the playing area during play.

2. A match organiser may authorise matches to be played with fewer than 15 players in each team.

3. A team may make an objection to the referee about the number of players in their opponents’ team. If a team has too many players, the referee orders the captain of that team to reduce the number appropriately. The score at the time of the objection remains unaltered. Sanction: Penalty.

4. For international matches, a union may nominate up to eight replacements.

5. For other matches, the match organiser decides how many replacements may be nominated, up to a maximum of eight.

6. Replacements are made only when the ball is dead and only with the permission of the referee.

7. If a player re-joins or a replacement joins the match without the referee’s permission and the referee believes the player did so to gain an advantage, the player is guilty of misconduct. Sanction: Penalty.

8. The table indicates the minimum number of front-row players by squad size and the minimum replacement obligations. A match organiser may, having taken player welfare into account, amend the minimum number of front-row players in the squad and the minimum replacement obligations at defined levels of the game.

Squad size Minimum of front row players in the squad Must be able to replace at the first time of asking
15 or fewer 3  
16, 17 or 18 4 Either a prop or a hooker
19, 20, 21 or 22 5 Both a prop and a hooker
23 6 Loose-head prop, tight-head prop and hooker

9. Where the match organiser has determined squad sizes of 23 and a team is able to nominate only two front-row replacements, then that team may nominate only 22 players in their squad.

10. Prior to the match, each team must advise the appropriate match official of their front-row players and possible front-row replacements and which position(s) in the front row they can play. Only these players may play in the front row when the scrum is contested and only in their designated position(s).

11. A replacement front-row player may start the match in another position.

12. It is a team’s responsibility to ensure that all front-row players and front-row replacements are suitably trained and experienced.