New rule book effective July 1

As announced by the IHF on its web site a few days ago, a new rule book has been produced with an effective date that fits with the start of the next season in the Northern hemisphere. It will also apply in the IHF World Championships for Women’s Junior and Women Youth, as well as in the Youth Olympics.

However, in contrast to the most recent rules editions, such as 2005 and especially 2001, there are [u]not[/u] many changes in the substance of the rules, so you do not need to worry that there will be a noticeable impact on how our game is played. In fact, there was a widespread opinion in the world of handball that the changes should be kept to a minimum this time.

As indicated in the documents that IHF provide together with the rule book text, the main focus has been on a restructuring and a new approach in Rule 8, which is the rule regarding fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct. [u]The structure now consists of two parallel ‘ladders’, one for fouls and one for unsportsmanlike conduct[/u]. The intention is to clarify what actions warrant ‘progressive punishment’ (i.e., starting with a ‘yellow card’), a direct 2-minute suspension, a direct disqualification, and a disqualification accompanied by a report intended to be the basis for post-game punishment.

Moreover, the previous approach has been to try to use examples to indicate at which step of the ‘ladder’ that specific actions belong. In the new rules text, [u]the emphasis is instead on criteria[/u], involving aspects such as the position of the guilty player, the part of the body against which the action is aimed, the dynamics of the action, and its impact. The hope is to achieve more clarity and consistency.

The rules have also been expanded in the Clarification regarding [u]passive play[/u]. The sense is that the weak point has been the inconsistencies in referee judgment and action, [u]after[/u] the forewarning signal has been shown. New instructions have been added on this point.

There are a number of other places in the rules where small changes in the substance have been made or where minor changes in the wording have been undertaken to facilitate the correct understanding. The IHF is offering, for the sake of those who now need to reflect these changes in the rule books of their own languages, a summary that points out where in rules text you will find such changes.

Regarding the changes in Rule 8, the IHF intends to issue DVDs for educational purposes, as this is clearly a more effective method than mere words to explain the new interpretations. Clearly this should be of interest, not just to referee instructors, but also to coaches who want to have the advantage of understanding how some nuances in the rules may make a difference for their own tactics and methods.