RUGBY LAWS 2014 OVEERHAUL? – A Whim ? or A Must?



o Jeffrey Fraser • University of Otago

Excellent points Topo, with No3 the most salient and urgent.
The laws of the game are pretty good – changing them will do little to fix the issues that everone complains about. The root cause of the vast majority of the on-field complaints is the fact that too many players are playing outside of the laws of the game and too many coaches are coaching their players to play that way.

The issues is not the refereeing, the issue is the tacit agreement that it’s Ok to cheat until (and even after) you’re caught. It is absolutely impossible for a referee to manage a match to everyone’s satisfaction if 50-70% of the players on the field are operating beyond what the laws allow (ie cheating). Don’t lets kid ourselves, it’s not only the opposition that cheats, if we’re brutally honest, we’re all doing it – it just seems worse when the opposition offends, or gets away with it. Refs do the best they can – some better than others – but their job is made impossible and nothing will change while the excessive cheating continues.

What really needs to happen is that there is a fundamental change in attitude and mindset by our administrators, coaches and players that it’s not OK to cheat, it’s wrong and more effort has to be made to have players play within the laws of the game. It is difficult to reconcile how, in this age of full time professional coaches and players, with their own full time referee advisors, we can still have 20+ penalties in a game, plus 20+ PK advantages, plus a referee who invariably talks himself hoarse discouraging players from doing the wrong thing. And these are just the cheats that get seen – triple that for the ones that go un-noticed. Surely we can’t be satisfied with that. Surely we can’t think it is OK to have to give three warnings each and every game (often to the same player) before going to a card.

How about this for a law change – for infringements, have two categories, an ‘error’ and a ‘cheat’. Referees are not the problem, it’s the players and the coaches who are prepared to contract outside the laws of the game. Fix them, fix the problem. Tweak the laws all you like, coaches and players will work at finding a way to nulify them. It can work – it worked in swimming and athletics. remember the incessant false starts and re-starts. False start now and the race re-starts without the offender! – How’s that for a rant!!

Jim Dexter

I am in favour of stopping the clock for scrums. Far too much of the playing time is wasted on resets.Pens,well not too sure there. But in general anything that speeds the game up is ok with me.Any side delaying,scrum or line out to lose 10 yards and then a penalty. This will bring a spring in the step of all forwards who can be rather slow to the mark.

Damo Ryan • Top Commenter • University College Cork

This is the sign of a desperate organisation!! Badly run for years by John O’ Neill, disastrously as it turns out, and now ye have paid for it. About 10years ago I made a comment online that Australian rugby would go bust if they didnt put their super rugby on free to air TV, they didnt and now they are going bust.

The ARU are taking easy money from subscription TV when they should have pulled their finger out and tried to INCREASE their market share. Instead they decided to limit their audience with subscrpition TV and now they are low on playing numbers. Not to mention ZERO interest in super rugby. While the Free to Air TV NRL (some games) announce multi million dollar projects. Then facts are in front of them and the money isnt, Im happy to see Australia fail because they are getting what they deserve. The fact remains, until there is FREE TO AIR Super rugby on TV they will not make money.

Maheen Ranasinghe • Top Commenter • Design Engineer at Master Hellie’s Engineering Consultants(Pvt) Ltd
Aussies always try to do things differently, but in this case I don’t agree with them. Penalties should stand as 3 points. Because this is rugby union, its not league..

Adam Brown

Keep drop goals and conversions as they are, but reduce penalties to 2 points to incentivise team to kick to the corner and try and score a try more often. Penalties are the most boring part of the game and leave the game too open to the whims of the referee. However, in order to prevent teams from cynically giving away penalties, play is restarted by a free kick to the attacking team from the point of the infringement. So if you give away a penalty in front of your posts, the opposition kick their 2 points and then carry on where they left off. There is no strategic advantage to be had from cynically fouling to give away 3 points rather than 7 as you often see currently.



Emmett, to your comments, Not only it is easy to say but also very easy to do (particularly when you have millions or billions of pounds in your coffers as the IRB does). They have expert personnel and could also employ “professional law makers” as they hire people in any field to fix whatever they fix.

As for Education on “fair play” or any other subject, it starts anytime anywhere, there are bulletins, newsletters and websites dedicated to it. It’s just a matter of attitude! Don’t you worry about the costs, they are loaded (I should say we are loaded as we are part of the game). I don’t object to increasing or decreasing the value of any part or scoring prowess. I’m pointing out that the Laws are archaic. In a scrum the referee has 32 points that he could award a penalty for!! I’m talking about “OUTCOMES to be favoured over PROCESS”.

The rugby rules have not been “overhauled” they have been just “tweaked” in some areas. In 2005 the IRB gave to a group of referees the job of fixing the scrum rules and they came out with Crouch-Touch-Pause-Engage, the most maligned and under thought law changes ever. The job is complex, I agree but not impossible particularly if done by experts.

IF you are suggesting I’m demonising anything, you are telling me how much you know about rugby! You can also choose whether you like to play for the Evil XV or for the Not-Very-Bright XV.

Kind regards,

About toporod

Triple Rugby Union International (1977-1991) The ART of SCRUMMAGING - 2013 Gold Medal Winning Author - [IPPY] - 2014 Silver Medal Winner [eLit Awards] - Enthusiastic writer on Rugby and Bipolar Disorders - International Rugby Consultant and Public Speaker -
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