Nigel Owens blasts World Rugby law change that will impact Springboks and more

Not happy.

Former World Rugby Referee of the Year Nigel Owens has blasted the governing body over one of their recent new law amendments.

From July 1, teams will no longer be able to call for a scrum when they are awarded a free-kick, with many in the game not happy with this change, including Owens.

The Springboks famously used this to their advantage at the Rugby World Cup against France, with Rassie Erasmus and his team taking full advantage of the fact that they boast one of the most powerful scrums in the world.

Owens says the scrum needs to remain an “integral” part of the game and feels World Rugby’s new law is simply “papering over the cracks.”

“I fear that introducing this new law is simply papering over the cracks of the game’s issues and is more likely to create further problems than solve the existing ones,” Owens wrote in his WalesOnline column.

“We must always remember that rugby has always been a very unique sport because it is a sport for all shapes and sizes. That is one of the main attractions, people play the game because there’s a place for them in it.

“For the guys in the front row, the likes of your Adam Joneses and your Ben Tameifunas, their bread and butter is being in the scrum. It’s a chance for them to use their strength and physical ability to benefit their team.

“That’s the same for all front rows, including the youngsters coming through.

“We simply have to ensure that the scrum remains an integral part of the game. If it’s not, then we are going to lose these players – and damage the game itself.”

Owens also disagrees that this new law will open up more attacking opportunities.

“When you have a scrum setup, you have 16 players bound in the scrum, so what you have behind you is space. It’s important to be able to keep those 16 players in the scrum for as long as you can, because when the ball comes out, there’s space for them to attack,” he wrote.

“If we don’t have those players in the scrum, we’re just going to have continuous pick-and-go ball.”

Most importantly, Owens feels Rugby Union is in danger of becoming Rugby League, with less space on the field, if it keeps going in its current direction.

“With this new law, World Rugby is not bringing in something which is not going to deal with the issues that are at play, but it is going to depower the scrum and take away an important part of the game,” he added.

“If we’re not careful, within a couple of years we will be like rugby league, with even less space on the field that what we have now.

“Imagine you’re a weak scrummaging side and a scrum is awarded. With this new law, you’re just going to give a free-kick away by making a deliberate error as the stronger opposition won’t be able to take the scrum, where they have the advantage.

“And what will you have then? A wall of defence in front of you or more up-and-under box kicking.”

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