At the end of the Rugby World Cup, the governing body will no doubt do a revision of how successful the tournament was.
In many ways, it has been amazing. But there are many small changes that would have a hugely positive impact regarding the on-field spectacle. In fact, some aren’t changes to the laws – it is merely a matter of them being enforced.
Here are a handful of things I’d like to see in the professional game.
Relieve the referee of timing duties
The referee has a huge amount on his plate and it would be great to see a few things delegated. With shots at goal, there is 90-second time frame from when the try is scored to when a conversion must be attempted. Ninety seconds! If a player can’t line up a kick and have a shot within a minute there is something wrong. Why not put up a one-minute shot clock set by the TMO? This goes for penalties also.
Wasting time at the scrum has become a blight on the game and this would be simply solved by stopping the clock after the first collapse and not started again until the ball is out of the scrum, a penalty has been awarded or a push-over try has been scored. Once again, leave the clock duties to the TMO.
The game is often stifled these days not just by defences creeping offside, but almost playing in the opposition back line. This is another area that should be entirely the focus of the assistants on the sideline. It seems that defences know these days that an offside offence in general play is never called out and they play accordingly.
Crack down on the existing law, or better still, require there to be daylight between the last feet and the defensive line and keep them honest.
What’s with the rule about intercepts needing to be successful otherwise it is an automatic penalty and usually a yellow card?
If it is a blatant knock down, then sure. But there have been so many very near genuine intercept attempts that are immediately penalised simply because the player failed to haul the ball in. The intercept is often a really exciting play but it is being demonised by the current interpretations.
Geoff Parkes wrote that the Sébastien Vahaamahina red card was the perfect example of why red cards shouldn’t allow a timed replacement. I would argue that the Tomas Lavanini red card was the perfect example of why they should.
First and foremost, it is the player that must be punished for foul play. This can be much more severe or measured to the individual after the match when all the circumstances are scrutinised. Lengthy bans and big fines for offenders found to be guilty.
The team is still affected but marginal calls will have some respite and the game as a spectacle like the Argentina vs England match won’t be reduced to a non-event. Also, a send-off resulting in another player being allowed to replace them after say 15 minutes will mean more consistency in the punishment.
For example, a red card in the first five minutes has a much greater impact than in the last five minutes. If the red card had this sanction, you could then introduce another card (perhaps black in colour) that sends a player completely from the field in cases such as the utterly stupid act of Vahaamahina.