Below are five simple law changes that we believe will make rugby a better spectacle for fans around the world…
1.Scrum halves cannot pass the ‘tunnel’ whilst the ball is in the scrum
The logic behind this law change is to stop scrum halves from walking to the back of the scrum where the opposition number 8 has the ball at their feet and tackling them as soon as they attempt to pick and go. By stopping them at the point the two scrums meet, there is an opportunity for the number 8 to pick up the ball without interference, before beginning their run, instead of increasing the risk of a knock-on as they attempt to pick the ball up. It will also stop the petty handbags that goes on between scrum halves whilst the ball is in a scrum.
2.Defending players must get out of the way of a collapsed maul
One tactic that has recently become prevalent in rugby, is defending players attempting to hold the ball carrier up until the referee calls maul, at which point they all simply collapse on the ball making it unplayable, and therefore earning their side a scrum. This leads to another breakdown in play which slows the game down whilst scrums are set (and sometimes reset). Instead, once a maul collapses, players should make every effort to get out of the way and make the ball playable as if a ruck had been called, or risk giving away a free kick to the attacking team.
3.Attacking teams to be given the benefit of the doubt whenever a try is in question
Currently, the laws tend to side with the defending team, in that if referee’s and TMO’s cannot see if the ball has been grounded, then a scrum five is called. This law change would flip that on its head and ensure that if there is an instance where officials cannot see if the ball has been grounded then, the try is awarded. This would dissuade defending teams from simply throwing themselves over the ball to ensure officials cannot see if the ball has been grounded, whilst encouraging attacking teams to go for the try, rather than opting to kick at the posts.
4.If the ball is available, it must be played within five seconds of a scrum becoming stationary
This law change is designed to stop attacking teams holding the ball in the scrum in the hope of being awarded a penalty. It is a combination of the current laws surrounding mauls and rucks where the ball must be played after a certain period. This means that an attacking team has the opportunity to get a scrum moving forwards, but it it becomes stationary, the referee can shout use it, at which point the scrum half or number 8 must play the ball. This will help reduce the number of collapsed scrums where the ball is held at the number 8’s feet until it goes down.
5.The ball travel beyond arms length of a player before a knock on is called
Currently, it seems that players only have to drop the ball for a knock-on to be called. This law change instead focusses on making sure that the ball has clearly travelled forwards, before players are penalised. Simply dropping the ball confers very little advantage to an attacking player, instead slowing them down as they attempt to pick it up, it only becomes an advantage when they knock it forward over a distance. This law change would help reduce the number of scrums, which speeds up the game and keeps the ball in play for longer periods of time.
All of these changes are suggested with keeping the ball alive in mind. The idea being to use the set piece as a means to restart the game rather than to earn penalties. There would also be a requirement for referee’s to actually employ both these laws, and the current laws (like straight feeds).