Nigel Owens names some of the big problems he sees in rugby following the World Cup
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The big issues.
Former referee Nigel Owens has highlighted a number of problems he currently sees with the way rugby is being officiated following the World Cup in France.
Owens, who retired from officiating back in 2021, believes there are a lot of learnings to take from issues at rugby’s showpiece event last month.
One of the biggest talking points was the use of the TMO and the introduction of a ‘bunker’ system as part of an ongoing World Rugby trial which Owens has previously said was not a success, in his opinion.
The Welshman feels that the TMO is controlling far too much of the game and how it’s used needs to change.
“During the Rugby World Cup, I made no secret of my thoughts on the new TMO bunker,” Owens wrote in his Wales Online column.
“While it certainly showed how it can help to speed up games, it hardly reduced controversies or improved decision-making during the tournament and, in my opinion, ended up being used too much when the decisions should have been made by the on-field referees.
“At the moment, it feels like the TMO is refereeing matches and that is not a road that rugby should be going down. While technology has its place in the game, how it is used currently needs to change.”
Another issue from the World Cup that received a of complaints was how the scrum was refereed and Owens believes officials aren’t managing it correctly.
“Too many scrums are not being refereed at the moment.,” Owens said
“Too many refs are playing on when the scrum is down and not dealing with the issues behind it, and the problem then just continues over and over again.
“They simply need to be stronger – if they can be stronger in refereeing it and in dealing with the negative scrummagers, then we will see much more of a contest at scrum time.”
The contact area is also something that needs to be policed better as far as Owens is concerned.
“Aside from scrums, the contact area is also key to the game. If you don’t have a solid contact area, then you’re stuck with a stop-start game with lots of penalties and absolutely no continuity,” Owens added.
“It’s all there in the laws of the game, but it just needs to be refereed better. You can’t deliberately collapse a ruck and players arriving at the ruck should be arriving on their feet and not diving off them.
“I’m not saying that everybody on the ground needs to be penalised, but certainly I think it’s an area of the game we need to improve on.
“If we get more players on their feet contesting the ruck then we have more space in midfield for the players to attack. This will also reduce the amount of dangerous clearouts around the dead ruck areas, when piles of bodies are on the ground.”