Just as the rugby world was breathing a sigh of relief, a leak from one outraged IRB board member confirms that it has been proposed a new wave of law experiments will be trialled next season.
Not content at dismissing the ELVs and returning to the original law book (for the most part), a number of other adjustments to our game have been tabled, apparently to rule out the type of match that we saw in the Rugby World Cup in France in 2007.
You’ll remember that not every game was as gripping as Wales v Fiji, and that on occasions, teams looked like rabbits in headlights and preferred to kick the ball to safer territory, rather than run it from deep and risk conceding crucial points.
“That is knockout rugby!” we reply in unison, but in yet another attempt to ‘speed up the game’ and force players to run with the ball to ‘wow’ the crowds, here is a rundown of the three new rules on the table.
1. Kicking directly out of play will result in a lineout from where you kicked it, regardless of whether the player was inside the 22 metre line, and regardless of whether that team played the ball back inside it or not. This excludes full penalties, in which case the current law still applies.
Not too controversial, since it’s not a far cry from where we are now but its success will depend on how the breakdown is policed since players may not want to run the ball into contact from behind their own line.
2. The ball will no longer need to be fed into the middle of the scrum and ‘crooked’ feeds are allowed.
This has been happening for some time now anyway, but it could mean that scrums become obsolete if there really is no chance of the opposition winning the ball. The law is designed so that we don’t waste time resetting scrum after scrum, and the game can be restarted more quickly.
3. There will be a limit to how many times each player can kick the ball during a game – this will be set at 3 each for backs and 1 each for forwards to begin with, but could be adjusted easily at a later date.
Accompanying this strange new rule is the introduction of a ‘Kicking Official’ to help the referee count how many kicks each player has made in the game, and the IRB have said that not only will this reduce unnecessary kicking, but it will also create employment for some of its staff that they’d otherwise have to make redundant.
My reaction to this latest development from the Laws Project Group shouldn’t really be printed anywhere, but what do you think?