New Zealand rugby chief slams Six Nations after ELVs defeat

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Delegates from New Zealand and Australia were desperate to see the 'sanctions' ELV - which has been on trial in the Super 14 and Tri-Nations for the last two seasons and replaces most penalties for technical offences with free-kicks - passed into full law, but at a high-level International Rugby Board conference in London the leading European countries voted not to recommend that it is adopted.

Plans to allow mauls to be pulled down and for unlimited numbers in the lineout were also scrapped, leading to accusations from Australia that the leading Six Nations unions had been close-minded.

Supporters of the sanctions ELV argued it put more emphasis on running rugby and less reliance on a referee's interpretation of the breakdown area.

But critics claimed it was little more than a "cheat's charter", allowing defenders to wilfully kill the ball knowing they will not be gifting their opponents three points, and it was never trialled in any makor competition in Europe

Tew said: "We had the ridiculous situation where the Six Nations were en masse rejecting law variations which they had not trialled.

"It's fair to say that raised a few eyebrows given they were telling us why they didn't work. They were basing their arguments on assumptions rather than facts."

England argued against the introduction of all three ELVs - sanctions, maul and lineout - based on extensive analysis of 153 matches, including Super 14 and Tri-Nations matches.

Australia's high performance manager David Nucifora claimed the Six Nations' stubborn defence of the rolling maul meant they had failed to understand the wider picture.

"It's fair to say the hardcore of the Six Nations countries were the ones that really struggled to get their heads around it but there are other countries in the north that are a bit more open-minded about them," he said.

"The frustration from our point of view was that the maul was never gone. Part of the charter of the game is for there to be a contest for possession and the maul in its old form, from our view, is an obvious obstruction whereas being able to pull the maul down makes it a contest.

"It doesn't mean the maul is dead and that is what they have missed up there.

"If they let things evolve as we have down here they will see the maul is coming into the game more and more as people get their head around the skills to create a maul now and it will only become more prominent in a game as teams adjust."

New Zealand and Australia had always been strong advocates of the three major ELVs that were swept off the table at the Lensbury Club in Teddington on Tuesday.

ARU chief executive John O'Neill, who faces stiff domestic competition from rugby league, Aussie Rules and football, has been particularly vocal about the need for rugby union to evolve.

The conference did recommend 10 ELVs be adopted permanently, including a five-metre offside line behind scrums and the pass-back law, which prevents teams from gaining ground with a direct kick for touch if they have played the ball into their own 22.

This week's conference was not a decision-making forum but their recommendations are set to be proposed by the IRB's rugby committee at a full council meeting on May 13.

A new lawbook will come into force on August 1 and so the Lions' tour of South Africa this summer will be played under the current set of global ELVs, which include unlimited lineout numbers and pulling down the maul.