Rugby rules can’t afford more band-aid solutions

CizzyRascal Roar Guru

By CizzyRascal, CizzyRascal is a Roar Guru

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    For five or six years, the IRB has been trying to fix faults in the game of rugby with band-aid solutions. These have over time been making problems worse.

    The game’s governing body really needs to take some big steps, or rugby won’t come out of its downward spiral.

    The first issue, which is the largest one at the moment, could have probably the easiest solution. That is the scrum. At the moment, we have a case where if you don’t win the initial hit, you will most likely lose the scrum.

    First of all, nowhere in the law book does it mention hit. There is meant to be an engagement and no movement until the ball is fed into the scrum. I’m not sure why the IRB doesn’t pick up on this, but it is right there under their noses.

    A passive engagement would potentially remove the referee from proceedings, where players are trying to guess his timing. Technique would then become the top ability required of a prop rather than pure brute strength. Heck, we may even get hookers hooking the ball and maybe some more balls won against the head.

    Mauls have always been a bone of contention. I like them but I do believe they should be policed better. There should only be one use it or lose it, any player joining the maul may not join ahead of the player with the ball but rather behind him.

    Any maul that isn’t going forwards for anything more than five seconds should have a scrum called against it.

    Drop goals should be reduced to two points. Also, if a drop goal is missed and goes dead in-goal, there should be a scrum from where it was taken, rather than a 22 which only benefits the team that takes it as they will most likely get possession back again.

    The number of substitutes – seven or eight – is too large. If you are having to change nearly half of your team in what is meant to be an 80-minute match, then something is wrong.

    The game should be a marathon where players’ fitness is tested right to the end. I understand that injuries occur, so we would not want to remove all substitutes, but my guess is a lot of injuries are happening now when you have the players who last a whole game playing against seven or eight players who started on the bench.

    These players are expending 80 minutes’ worth of energy in the last 20 against players who have been worn out after playing the first 60.

    Games become interesting when they open up as players tire, not by staying tight the whole way through.

    Anyway, these are my thoughts. I look forward to you Roarers ripping this to pieces or adding to my suggestions.

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • April 13th 2012 @ 1:27pm
      Sammy said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

      The game is great at the moment, scrums have improved and the game is going gangbusters. As somebody who had to suffer through rugby in the 70’s and 80’s i’m loving it again. Great to see that next years USA rugby grand prix will be shown on the NFL network.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 1:52pm
        sheek said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:52pm | ! Report


        The ironic thing about rugby in the 70s & 80s, is that they actually played some wonderful rugby in between all the ref’s attempts to stiltify the play as often as possible through incessantr whistle-blowing.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 2:10pm
        Justin said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

        Scrums havent improved at all. Look back to the 90s where there was none of this touch pause engage rubbish. The packs decided when to go and they stayed up a hell of a lot more. Dot take my word for it but watch all the replays on Fox.

    • Columnist

      April 13th 2012 @ 1:44pm
      Brett McKay said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

      Cizzy, even if the passive scrum engagement was the only suggestion of yours adopted – or re-adopted, as the case may be – that’s probably enough. That alone would lead to more ball in play (with less resets), and therefore more rugby for the viewing dollar/pound/euro/peso/rand/clamshell…

    • Roar Guru

      April 13th 2012 @ 1:56pm
      Hoy said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

      I think scrums this year are a little better? I haven’t noticed a massive number of resets this year by too many teams. The Reds could do wtih a bit of practice I have noticed.

      I remember when I started playing, and we had crouch touch pause engage at school, but the hooker did actually have to hook at that stage, and there was absolutley no pushing until the ball went in. Now it is Hit with impact, and then drive and grind, then crooked feed and off you go…

      Looking back further, and there was no call at all in grade, they used to rock up to the mark, get set, and both sides into it. And hardly any resets.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 2:01pm
      sheek said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:01pm | ! Report


      I like the scrum suggestion, at present it’s embarassingly to see two huge sets of frontrowers being treated like school children.

      I don’t agree with devaluing the drop goal. A quickly stuck but accurate drop under pressure is worth the points. However, I wouldn’t allow drop goals from set play – scrum or lineout. You must have at least one phase, perhaps add another to make it interesting, before the drop-goaler gets his chance. I think this is a better way to jazz it up & makes the kicker & his team earn the 3 points.

      With regards to replacements, is this really the problem with clogged backlines? How about getting the forwards back into the rucks & mauls more often, & freeing up the backlines to attack each other as they used to.

      I can understand having 7-8 guys on the bench due to the complexity of some positions. What I really hate is the gratuitous 1-3 minutes given to a player at the end of the game. I would allow 5 interchanges 9excluding blood bin) before players are permanently replaced. This might remove this insidious practice of giving a replacement a run for only 1-3 minutes.

      However, if this same guy’s had a 10-15 minute stint earlier, then it doesn’t matter if he comes on again for the last minute or so.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 3:29pm
        Bob said | April 13th 2012 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

        Give this man a job at the IRB.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 2:16pm
      Justin said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

      The scrukm idea has merit as does limiting the replacements.

      I am ll for a larger bench but actually having less of these reserves actually allowed to take part in the match. That way subs will generally be only for injury with the odd tactical sub made. So 5 subs to me could be a good move. Tired players will open up the field later in each half and those who are fit and talented enough will find space.

      I’d also take away penalties, like we had with ELVs. However the free kicks instead would be just like a penalty but you cannot shoot for goal. From memory it was foul play and offside? You would have more ball in play, with potentially more tries from line-outs so a dominant scrum can still be rewarded, but they will have to work for a 5 pointer a bit more rather than a gimme 3.

      From scrums – the refs guess most of the time. So free kicks it is, as per above.

      • April 14th 2012 @ 7:54pm
        Gpc said | April 14th 2012 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

        Totally agree. The evl’s year was the most exciting fast paced and least interrupted rugby I have seen in my 20 years or so of watching.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 2:53pm
      formeropenside said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      Go back to the rules – and the interpretation of the rules, more importantly – circa 1994. Rucking, mauling, having to have feet on the ground for a mark, the packs managing scrummaging…perfect.

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