Rugby Union: Board combats crooked feed

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The Independent Online
Possession, it is said, is nine-tenths of the law and yesterday the game's lawmakers drafted a charter to counter the growing tendency - particularly in the southern hemisphere - to take the adage too literally.

The technical committee of the International Board released the five- page document - outlining the principles of the game and how the laws should be interpreted by referees - at the end of a four-day meeting in Cape Town.

Syd Millar, of Ireland, the chairman of the committee, said: "We felt that the game had become a little bit predictable in that there was no longer a fair contest for possession anymore.

"You had situations where a team would retain the ball for 12 or 14 phases because there was no fair contest for possession.

"It annoys me to see a member of a defending team going to play the ball only to be told by a match official to get away. It's gone a bit too far in the Super 12."

Millar said there was no need to alter the laws. What needed to be changed was the approach of referees, coaches and players. Videos are to be produced explaining how each aspect of the game should be interpreted in the pursuit of consistent refereeing worldwide.

The charter will be sent to each of the 74 member unions of the IB and then to individual clubs and provinces.

However, Millar wants referees to act immediately on the charter. He said: "The laws tell you what you can't do but there's nothing written down on how the game should be played." Scrums and line-outs had also become token contests as the crooked feed at both was being overlooked by referees, he added.

This year's Super 12 produced another deluge of tries, with Auckland retaining the title in an unusually low-scoring match against Australian Capital Territory, winning 23-7.

"Most of the Super 12 is admirable. We just feel that it has gone a little on the predictable side," Millar said.

On the domestic front, the Welsh scrum-half Rob Howley, who injured his shoulder in the Lions victory over Natal last weekend, was admitted to hospital yesterday to have a metal pin inserted in his left shoulder. The pin will be in for eight weeks and Howley is not expected to be fit until October.

Howley will miss Wales' match against Romania on 30 August, but is aiming to return for the New Zealand game at Wembley on 15 November.

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