IRB ready to rip up rule book so game is easier to understand

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November, unusually this year, will be downtime for Test rugby, with only South Africa on their way to Britain to play Wales in Cardiff and the Barbarians at Twickenham. And what a good bit of business the latter fixture will have been by the Rugby Football Union if the Springboks arrive as world champions. The International Rugby Board, however, will not be idle.

The governing body, once derided for a snail's pace of change, cannot get enough of this novel idea or that innovation. Next month the IRB will host a conference for all the game's stakeholders to discuss the "integrated season", and next year they will push for the entirerewriting of rugby's lawbook.

Anyone would think the World Cup had been a disaster. On the contrary, the world has hailed the packed stadiums in France and the drama served up by the players. Silvie Allemand, press attaché of the city of Marseilles, emailed her thanks to the 30,000 England fans who went to the team's quarter-final.

"It was a very, very great weekend when we appreciated the 'ambience' in the town with the English language, the songs and the friendly attitude of the supporters," wrote Ms Allemand.

Still, the IRB's deliberations will leave no participant in the sport untouched. You may not be aware of the clamour for the laws to be changed – possibly because from Joe Public there has not been any – but for the past two years a set of experimental variations has been tried in junior competitions in both hemispheres.

There are too many to go into here but they include an extra five metres of space at the scrum and a radical alteration to the maul, allowing it to be dropped. A raft of penalty offences will be done away with. The idea is to make the game quicker and easier to understand. June 2008 is the earliest any changes will be implemented.

The lawbook is considered by the IRB to be too long and far too complicated. It is a description which could also be applied to the British rugby season. Unions, clubs, sponsors and broadcasters have all been invited to make suggestions for an ideal global schedule at next month's conference, to be held in Woking. Considering it takes two minutes for a video referee to award a try which to the naked eye was obviously scored, goodness knows how long it will take to find a date for every senior match in every major nation.

New Zealand, meanwhile, have particular problems to sort out. Graham Henry may depart as coach – "at 61 I'm pretty comfortable, thank you," he said – but amid the shock of the All Blacks' quarter-final exit from this World Cup they are consoling themselves that they will host the next one in 2011. Martin Sneddon, the chief executive of the organising committee, has suggested more matches played by fewer teams (16 not 20). There is no detail yet, but the chastened Kiwis may fancy more round-robin matches. They are fed up being the best team in the world who never win the World Cup.

Here is a suggestion for 15 names to be added to the Woking guest list: a bunch of lads from the CAU club in Valencia who were sighted at a motel near Newport last weekend on the way to the thrilling quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium. That's Valencia, as in Spain. "We're not very good at rugby," said Chito, a scrum-half, "but we love it." A variation on a 10cc theme from a Spaniard in Wales watching France and New Zealand, which summed up the spirit of this World Cup.

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