The Roar
The Roar


Rethinking the game's penalty rules

Rugby's senior players are the game's lifeblood. (AAP Image/Ross Setford)
Roar Pro
9th July, 2017
2268 Reads

Be that it may, the All Blacks could have won if the goal kicking had been more accurate by Beauden Barrett.

But the heart of rugby is all about scoring tries. Winning by penalties outside the 22 line is like winning through the back door.

If ever union is going to lose favour from rugby fans, it is the spoilage of the game by ridiculous penalty kicks some 50-60 metres away. And that means all you need to win are some chaps with big rugby boots and steroid-filled legs.

It is about time for the old men in suits managing the code to take another look at how existing rules of allowing penalties to dictate the outcome of the game are actually ruining the code. They are spoiling the fun of supporters wanting to watch teams aiming for touch-downs to win.

Here are some suggestions to reduce the impact of penalties on the outcome of the game.

1. Long-arm penalties, only for serious offences, i.e. high tackles and other yellow card offences. They could also be introduced after repeated offsides, repeated scrum spoilage or other scrum offences.

2. Except for dangerous play, the above breaching of the rules as first time offence in the run of play should only be short-arm penalties and allowed to kick for touch and subsequent throw-in at a line-out – but not allowed a shot at goal.

3. ALL existing penalty rules as first-time offence in the run of play inside the 22-line will remain.

4. Existing red and yellow card rules apply.


5. Of course, teams can drop-kick for goal from anywhere in the park.

These changes will put emphasis on scoring tries by each side for teams to win.

However, a stringent application of the exiting penalty rules for first offence should be applied with play inside the 22-line of the goal. First offence inside the 22 line will incur long-arm penalty and/or penalty try as currently applied.

Right now, teams try to master the dark art of creating penalties and getting rewarded to get a shot at goal from all over the park.

As a close body contact sport, we can expect unanticipated infringement of the rules by players for instance offsides in defending their line or in the rush to attack the opponent’s defence. This should not be allowed to be exploited to win games.

Spectators want to see more tactical play by teams to go for tries than teams exploiting penalty rules outside the 22 to win the game.