An article in The Sunday Times yesterday suggested that a decision at this week’s IRB meeting will confine the majority of the Experimental Law Variations to the bin.
The major rugby unions are meeting in London to decide whether to retain the new rules that have brought about some fairly horrendous rugby matches over the last year and a half, and should they be abolished, I imagine the news will be met with some relief, judging by previous debate on The Rugby Blog.
I have my fingers crossed, and long for the day when I can watch a driving maul rumbling towards the opposition line, drawing in defenders and creating space for the wide men, listening to the roar of the crowd and marvelling at the skill and strength of the players.
The rule that allows the driving maul to be collapsed was derided from the outset due to the potential injuries that can occur. Whilst I’ve heard some stories of broken legs and twisted knees, opposition to this law now seems to stem from the effects that it’s having on the game. Defending teams can commit two or three people to bring the maul to a halt whilst everyone else fans out waiting to absorb the next wave of attack.
The ‘sanctions’ law is also likely to be withdrawn after its trial in the Southern Hemisphere only. With most penalty offences only punished with a free kick, defences can again commit a small number of players to slow the ball down whilst everyone else spreads out to stifle any sort of interesting play.
With these laws favouring the defending sides, players have been unwilling to try their luck in counter-attacking from inside their own half and the scourge of today’s game at nearly every level is the seemingly endless spells of kicking. Watching the back three booting the ball to each other is only enjoyable if you look at the bemused faces of the forwards running back and forth in the middle of the park.
So what is the verdict? Should every rule be abandoned? How about the 5 metre rule at the scrum? Have we given the ELVs a fair trial?