In his conversation with James McOnie, World Rugby vice chairman John Jeffrey, a veteran of 40 Test matches for Scotland, delved into potential law changes and areas for enhancing the sport.
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Jeffrey expressed a desire to reduce the prevalence of the imposing ruck set-up associated with high contestable box kicks.
Notably, during the World Cup, teams such as England, Ireland, and South Africa gained renown for employing the box kick extensively. This strategic approach aimed to secure territory and disrupt opposing game-plans.
“We’re in the entertainment business now,” said Jeffrey. “Is the game entertaining now, as it is? No.
“It’s got to be entertaining to watch and entertaining to play, so we need to be smarter with our laws. We’re starting to do that at World Rugby, having these ‘Shape of the Game’ conferences. Ball in play time in the first two weeks of this World Cup [was] sadly down on the last World Cup.
“There’s too many kicks in the game. Can you ban box-kicking? … I think we need to step on the gas and say, ‘Yeah, let’s consider all things. Let’s think outside the box’.”
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“Beyond a joke” – Nigel Owens calls for major changes to rugby
Popular former referee Nigel Owens has called for major changes to way games are officiated following what was a divisive Rugby World Cup.
The Welshman, who was writing in his column for Wales Online, believes there are a number of areas that need addressing after taking time to think about what went down in France.
Dump the bunker:
Owens wrote: “During the Rugby World Cup, I made no secret of my thoughts on the new TMO bunker. While it certainly showed how it can help to speed up games, it hardly reduced controversies or improved decision-making during the tournament and, in my opinion, ended up being used too much when the decisions should have been made by the on-field referees.
“At the moment, it feels like the TMO is refereeing matches and that is not a road that rugby should be going down. While technology has its place in the game, how it is used currently needs to change.”
Scrap the drop-out:
Owens wrote: “It was hoped that they would improve player safety by reducing the number of pick-and-gos and encourage teams to spread the ball along the back line rather than bulldoze their way over to score.
But if you look at games now, teams are still picking and going and they’re still bulldozing their way over the line. If anything, it rewards negative play as the defender can just chuck themselves under the ball and hold it up.”