Wayne Barnes warns referees will employ hard line over new scrum laws

Top official insists players must 'buy in' to changes and claims they are here to stay

Wayne Barnes, one of the most capable referees in world rugby as well as one of the more controversial, has spent the last few weeks giving England's leading clubs a thorough tutorial in the realities of the new scrum laws – a sporting minefield on which Newcastle and Bath will take the first steps on Friday night. Barnes has even run a session at Northampton, whose captain, Dylan Hartley, infamously branded him a "cheat" during the Premiership Grand Final at Twickenham last May and missed the Lions tour of Australia as a consequence.

Barnes did not address that unfortunate incident during his visit to Franklin's Gardens, because there was no need: scrum laws come and go, but questioning a referee's integrity amid a firestorm of Anglo-Saxon invective has never been anything other than illegal. He did, however, run through the changes that will, over the coming months, transform the nature of the union code's ultimate distinguishing feature.

"There has to be some buy-in from everyone to make this work," Barnes said as he concluded his nationwide travels at Twickenham. "There will be teething problems, obviously, and I'm sure we'll see that this weekend. But we have to make sure this works because we want better scrums and better outcomes.

"The changes will give referees different challenges. Last season it was about being accurate over who was collapsing the scrum. Now, with the front rows closer together and the bind happening before engagement, we can look at other things."

Those worried that the opening weeks of the season will be a penalty-infested mess – and they include a number of rugby directors, the most outspoken of whom has been Richard Cockerill of Leicester – will not have been reassured by Barnes's insistence on a zero-tolerance policy.

"If players continue to do something we spend the pre-season telling them they shouldn't be doing, there have to be sanctions," he commented. "And we don't want to start off being very hard in week one and forget about it by week 20. For this to work, we have to hold people to account throughout the season. That's why it was important for the referees to go into the clubs beforehand: we've paid over 40 visits to the 12 teams over the summer. They know what we're trying to deliver and I'm optimistic. From what we've seen so far, scrums are good pushing competitions. Also, they're up off the floor."

Wasps, former champions fallen on hard times, are also up off the floor, thanks in no small part to the efforts of David Young, the three-time Lions tourist who joined the club as rugby director from Cardiff Blues two seasons ago. Today, Young agreed a contract extension taking him past the home World Cup in 2015.

"There's now some real positivity about the future, about where we're headed," Young said in explaining his decision. "It's been great to have lots of players committing their own futures to Wasps in recent months and I'm happy to do likewise."

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment