One of the aspects of these changes that I like most is that referees are taking the initiative, rather than listening to other voices, whether broadcasters or coaches, about the need for a more entertaining game.
Rugby Union’s laws should not be bent towards the altar of entertainment if it means making it a game that is unrecognisable from what it was. The game has evolved over many years, and its shape and main principles are tried and tested, and we should respect that.
The thinking behind this breakdown refocus is to make the jackler more protected by stopping the clearers from diving over the top or coming in at the side. At the same time, referees will also play their part by whistling quickly for a penalty if there is no release by the carrier when the jackler is on his feet and lifting the ball.
However, that’s the way the law should always have been applied – although, for whatever reasons, referees did not always do so.
That’s why it is not revolutionary, but an important reminder of the breakdown laws as they should be refereed. For example, coming in at the side is illegal, and always has been. The same is true of diving-in off your feet to seal-off the ball, instead of staying on your feet so you are in a crouch-and-bind stance over the ball.
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August 23, 2020