Dumb it down
What's the story with the latest tweaks to rugby's rules?
Next season will see a fair few new rugby rules being introduced. What are they and how will they affect the game?
So the International Rugby Board have decided to tinker with the rules again. Did they not change them recently and was the last time not a disaster?
Ah yes they did, the Experimental Laws Variations, the ELVs. And while they were criticised initially, the changes they brought in 2007, fully implemented in 2009, made the game faster and the impact of the tweaks are hardly ever mentioned now.
So, if everything is so great now, why are they making more changes?
Well, the lads in charge of the game, the IRB, say it is for the good of the game. “We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the game is as enjoyable to play, officiate and watch as possible at every level while player welfare is of paramount importance,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
Sounds good, so, what have they done? Banned Stephen Ferris for being too awesome? Declared BOD an alien? Said Richie Gray is just too tall?
None of those, surprisingly. There are five changes coming to all levels, on trial, from August.
1. Players have five seconds to use the ball at the back of a ruck.
2. For a quick throw in, the player may be anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch and the player's goal line.
3. When the ball goes into touch from a knock-on, the non-offending team will be offered the choice of a lineout at the point the ball crossed the touch line; or a scrum at the place of the knock-on.
4. A team awarded a penalty or a free kick at a lineout may choose a further lineout instead of a scrum.
5. A conversion kick must be completed within one minute 30 seconds from the time that a try has been awarded.
Sounds good, especially the time limits. Should speed up the game.
Yes, and the ‘ruck’ rule should make it harder for defences to organise if the ball is recycled so quickly so we should see more scores.
Yep, there are two more rules that will come in for Test rugby. Television Match Officials will be allowed check any infringements in the lead up to a try, meaning that knock-ons in the build-up to scores can now be spotted and called back. The other change sees the number of replacements at international level go from seven to eight, a sensible move.
So we could see lots of drama and scrums overturned?
Yes, and crucial tries like the one Wales scored against Ireland in 2011 will be able to be reviewed and correctly ruled on.
A little late for us but good to hear. Any scrum changes?
Not yet but they are going to experiment with a new method of setting the scrum, with the now familiar ‘crouch, touch, pause, engage’ to be replaced with ‘crouch, touch, set’ to reduce the number of packs that go just a little too early.
Are we wrong or do all of these sound like good changes?
Nope, we agree with you. If only some other sporting organisations were so forward thinking, eh Fifa?
That’s a row for another day...
Long into the future too, sadly.