Wallabies face rugby new laws up north

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    The upcoming Bledisloe match, and the end of year Tests will be played under different laws.

    There’s a short video on YouTube from a UK rugby show where Wayne Barnes talks through the changes.

    Northern hemisphere players have been using the new laws already, and it has led to some outcomes which readers of The Roar might find interesting.

    Under the new breakdown law, a tackler can’t get straight to his feet, and play the ball from wherever he happens to be. He has to “go through the gate” first, before he can to attempt to get the ball.

    This tends to mean tacklers release the player very quickly, so they can get back into action. So quickly, in fact, that a tackled player sometimes thinks he is not held, and keeps going forward.

    On occasion, referees haven’t blown up. Even when a player has been tackled, though, the lack of immediate competition for the ball means he can release it, and pick it up to go again.

    The net effect of all this is that teams are reclaiming almost all their own breakdown ball because the defence has less chance to compete for it.

    So far, the main opposition response has been to fan out across the field, rather than commit to the breakdown.

    Some pundits believe this trend is increasing the influence of the scrum half as a playmaker. When the defence gets its spacing wrong, there are more opportunities to break through the middle of a ruck, If the tackled player releases and regathers, it’s often a scrum half nearby in support for an offload.

    If Will Genia stays in good form, then the new laws could make him even more of an asset to the Wallabies, since that would seem to suit his style.

    Another trend getting a lot of attention in the North is what appears to be a larger number of injuries occurring. It’s fair to say there are mixed opinions on this matter.

    Some coaches say the new laws are making the game more attritional, because there are now a larger number of collisions per game. With fewer players committing to the breakdown, attackers are also getting hit by double tackles more frequently.

    On the other hand, it’s still early in the northern season, so we have more anecdotes than data at this stage. Trends are not uniform across the three main European leagues (Pro 14, Top 14 and Premiership).

    However, if the injury rate does show a consistent rise, then national squads with less depth might be under pressure until the matter is addressed.

    I’m not entirely clear when Australia first plays a match under the new laws. The Bledisloe clash will definitely be under the old laws, although the referee is Wayne Barnes, who officiates in the English league using the new laws (he had the same split responsibility when he handled the first Bledisloe match in August).

    World Rugby says “The November 2017 Tests will operate under the full global law trials” which would seem to suggest the Wallabies will first encounter them live, when they take on Japan on the 4th November.

    However, there’s a match on the weekend following the third Bledisloe against The Barbarians. The Baa-baas also have matches in the North, so it might seem like a good opportunity for both sides to get used to the new laws.

    The referee, though is New Zealander Brendon Pickerill, who hasn’t used them yet, and won’t be handling any Tests afterwards. Looks just as likely the old ones will be employed.

    Without a global season, there’s no way around some sides suddenly having to flip from one set of laws to another. The same happens to Northern hemisphere sides when they finish their domestic seasons, and encounter laws on the June tours which have been introduced first in Super Rugby.

    Still, it’s always a challenge for players and officials to switch habits. New Zealanders Glen Jackson and Ben O’Keeffe will handle Australia’s matches against Wales and England, and both will have limited experience with the new laws. The Wallabies match against Scotland sees French referee Pascal Gaüzère with the whistle.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • Roar Guru

      October 21st 2017 @ 6:48am
      Rabbitz said | October 21st 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see the mechanics of these changes.

      If I am honest, I find these regular ‘tweaks’ frustrating. Once upon a time, back when I was a ‘rusted on’ rugby supporter, I loved the complexity and intricacy of the Laws of Rugby. For the involved players and supporters it was something that set rugby apart.

      Fast-forward a few years with the resultant loss of free-time, interest and commitment, I find, as a casual supporter, the never-ending changes and tweaks mean I quite often find I have no idea what the players and officials are doing or that I am yelling at the television in error.

      I realise most of the changes are to try and make rugby more marketable but I would suggest it is making it harder to understand.

      • October 21st 2017 @ 9:45am
        DrTootr said | October 21st 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Agreed with your last paragraph.

      • October 21st 2017 @ 3:15pm
        Cliff (Bishkek) said | October 21st 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

        Rabbits – we are becoming more and more Rugby League. What I see is less ruck and one on one tackling or 2 on 1. Afraid Rugby has lost me – these rule changes combined with the loss of rucking from a time long gone, the ARU shambles and a Coach who has no idea. Cheers

    • October 21st 2017 @ 11:18am
      zubrick said | October 21st 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      the worst that has occured in the modern game for mine is the time taken to pack and set a scrum
      and associated collapses and resets and delay in feeding during test matches
      seems to waste a lot of playing time…boring spectacle that detracts spectators and viewers
      scrums and lineouts seem to be a signal for waterboys and trainers/medics to invade the pitch and the players all take a breather
      starting to resemble nfl timeouts
      watched a replay of the 1986 bled recently…scrums and lineouts seemed done and dusted under a minute
      more rugby was played
      can new laws fix this rubbish

      • Roar Guru

        October 21st 2017 @ 3:58pm
        Cadfael said | October 21st 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        Going back further, a Wallabies v England gameat the old SSG, players ran to scrums. The scrums were over before the modern game players even get to the mark.

    • Roar Guru

      October 21st 2017 @ 12:07pm
      Timbo (L) said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

      A great informative piece, thanks.

      I am curious to see what happens to Pocock, Hoops and Kwagga Smith under the new pilfering laws.

      It is harder to pick than a broken nose.
      Does this mean the Fast Guys like Hoops and Kwagga will need to get faster and become a premium resource?

      Will the furniture movers like G. Smith and Pocock become more useful phasing the quicks out of the game.

      My gut feel is that we will see more of the dual 7’s strategy.

      Hoops in the lead to make the tackle, but no longer able to make an effective pilfer, Pocock or the 6 Following through to rob the albino watermelon from the fruit stall

    • October 21st 2017 @ 2:27pm
      AndyS said | October 21st 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

      Gee, you have to ask what is the point of Super Rugby. If it is not being played under the same laws as Tests, how is it preparing players to represent their country? No wonder no-one is watching…they really should just stick with a proper competition like the NRC, that is properly preparing the players by playing to the same laws. 😉

    • October 21st 2017 @ 3:12pm
      Gaz said | October 21st 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

      Great, our chargers are still coming to grips with the current laws, now they expect us to learn new ones. So unfair. Let’s boycott the EOY in protest.

    • Roar Guru

      October 21st 2017 @ 3:57pm
      PeterK said | October 21st 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

      The scrum laws changes are positive as is the ruck law re the playing kicking it out.

      The ball going out is positive as well.

      The tackler having to come around through the gate is positive too because it makes it consistent with other players arriving, makes it easier to understand and ref.

      The tackle becoming a ruck with just a defensive player over it and offside forming was changed just because Italy used it effectively against England, it had been used previously by other test teams.
      This could have significant problems if a breakout happens and a f/b makes a try saving tackle. It becomes easy for everyone on his side to be offside and not being allowed to stop a try. Overall though I like the change.

      Teams in the NH may avoid the ruck now and fan out however players like Pocock who are so good at pilfering will become even more of a premium. He pilfers as first man in most of the time anyway and not as the tackler.If he is first man in it makes no difference re the new offside law.

      • Roar Guru

        October 21st 2017 @ 7:44pm
        Rugby Fan said | October 21st 2017 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

        There are still breakdown turnovers in the Northern leagues, and mostly by flankers (Itoje tops the Premiership stats, as he is a regular pest, and has played a lot on the blindside so far)

        It’s true that a lot of the best turnovers are made by the next men in, rather than the tackler. Top exponents like Pocock have a better view of whether the ball is vulnerable if they don’t make the tackle. The only complication is that the next man now has to get around his own team mate, since the tackler will be trying to get up and back through the gate as fast as possible.

        The tackler can’t stand where he is, and just not compete for the ball, because he’ll be pinged for offside just as if he was lying on the wrong side. He could move to the side to give his team mates a clear sight of the ball, but that might leave the gate unguarded and let the opposition plough straight through.

        It’s not difficult to deal with. Good players haven’t stopped being good players but the rhythm at the breakdown is different, and takes a bit of getting used to.

        With the scrums, the willingness for referees to allow play to continue when a scrum has obviously collapsed is something they had started to do anyway. Some pundits think this means scrum dominance is not being rewarded in the same way, and so teams are thinking about structuring the forwards pack with more lineout options instead.

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