The Rugby World Cup is the sports show-piece event, it is therefore absolutely vital that officials ensure it is the best spectacle possible by clamping down on these eight things…
It’s been said before, it will be said again, but somehow it seems crooked feeds at both the line out, and scrum are still commonplace in the modern game. The reality is that officials need to start penalising crooked feeds now during the tournaments warm up games in a bid to ensure it is not a regular occurrence during the World Cup itself.
2.Holding Players Into Rucks
You see it time and time again, and both attacking and defending teams are guilty of holding players into rucks in a bid to win a penalty for going off feet, or sealing the ball. Although it’s not always easy to tell when this has occurred, officials needs to be much more aware of it happening, and not giving sides easy penalties to ensure the game flows.
Fortunately this is far from a wide spread issue in rugby at this stage, however we are seeing increasing incidences of players play acting in a bid to gain an advantage. For the most part, officials have cottoned on to this pretty quickly, but they need to ensure they come down hard on any offenders during the World Cup to stamp it out quickly.
This is a tactic creeping into the sport, and thus far has been primarily employed by the Springboks. It essentially involves striking players with an open palm during rucks and mauls, etc in a bid to bait them into reacting. This kind of tactic is an absolute disgrace and should be penalised with yellow cards without hesitation to ensure it does not become widespread.
Once upon a time it was only a teams captain who could talk to the referee, unfortunately those days have long since passed. Officials need to ensure they are being shown respect from players during a game at all times, so need to ensure they do not tolerate any form of talking back from players (see Nigel Owens for tips on this one).
Whether it be taking longer than the stated five seconds to use the ball after a breakdown, or going over the allotted time for a penalty, officials need to ensure these rules are enforced at the World Cup. You can understand a side on top wanting to run down the clock during a knock-out game, but this should be kept within the rules to ensure games remain as competitive as possible.
7.Use Of The TMO
This is more of a self-policing one for officials who need to be aware that the world is watching. The last thing the sport needs is endless referrals to the TMO that break up the flow of a match and ruin the game as a spectacle. Officials need to therefore ensure that only the most important of decisions are referred to the TMO during the World Cup.
Scrums are going to collapse, that is simply a fact of life when you’ve got 16 massive blokes pushing against one another. However, if the ball is available and the scrum collapses, assuming there is no immediate danger to the players involved then officials should allow play to continue rather than resetting unnecessarily.
This isn’t a rant about referees as for the most part they do a fantastic job of managing one of the most complex sports on earth, but rather a pointer from a fans perspective as to some of the things we’d like to see them perhaps tighten up a little on.