Sports Letters: Flaws in the laws

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Sir: It is apparent that contrary to the protestations of the president of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, some of the recent changes to the laws of the game are against the natural logic of playing the game. It is patently ridiculous that, under the new rules, a team could make 50 yards in a flowing handling movement and then lose the scrummage.

Conversely, a team that has merely hoisted an up and under that has been caught by an opposition player who cannot release the ball, then regain the put-in at the resultant scrum. Surely we should be encouraging handling and discouraging kicking.

To do that the new laws should be changed to read: 'After any kick out of hand in open play, at the next loose ruck or maul that is formed where the ball is deemed to be dead, the opposing team will have the put-in at the resultant scrummage.'

The handover rule with regard to handling movements should revert to the one of last season, so the team making ground retains possession. In such a way we will be saying teams: if you wish to play aerial rugby so be it - but unless you can recycle the ball at the next breakdown you will undoubtedly lose possession. However, if you handle the ball and keep driving forward your reward will be to retain the ball, so that you can establish a continuous attacking platform.

In a similar vein the line-out laws have reached a state whereby all but the best referees can effectively ruin the game by whistling for a wide variety of offences. In the majority of matches the cleanest and most effective barging ball, with the least barging or interference comes from shortened line-outs. Many years ago there was an experiment with 'double-banking'.

I believe that the time has now come to revert to this with a maximum of four in a line-out with three other forwards in a double-bank one metre back. For a three-man line there would have to be two double-banked etc. This would enable cleaner possession; allow the referee to monitor the line-out more easily; give the three-quarters more room in which to play.


Royal Navy


BFPO 386