Nigel Owens On The Proposed Law Change That He Thinks Could Help Solve One Of Rugby’s Biggest Problems
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World Rugby recently put forward some new law regulations to try to get the game back up and running again and referee Nigel Owens thinks one particular change could solve one of the game’s biggest problems.
The scrum is a hugely important part of the game that can play a massive role in terms of who comes out on top come the final whistle. Rarely does a side win if they are demolished a scrum time. If you can’t get good set-piece ball, you’re in trouble.
But the amount of time scrums seem to be taking up in games is getting more and more ridiculous and this law change could go a long way to help fix this.
The proposal would see the defending team awarded a dropout from their own goalline if the side going forward are held up in the in-goal area, or knock the ball forward into in goal – rather than a 5-metre scrum for the attacking/defending team under the current laws.
“As things stand, in each of those cases we currently have a five-metre scrum,” Owens wrote in his WalesOnline column.
“But that can penalise the defending team, whether they have the put in or not, if the other side are superior in the set-piece. Believe me, when under pressure near your own try line, the last thing you want is to have to deal with a scrum against a side who have the edge in that department.
“The mistake, remember, was by the team going forward who knocked the ball on in the first place.
“A dropout from your own goalline is something completely different in the game and while I was not a fan at first of the proposed change from a scrum if you are held up over the goalline, the more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to see the advantages and feel it will be good for the game.”
Owens thinks this could be good for the game for a number of different reasons, including encouraging more attacking play.
“How often have we seen teams from a few yards out pick and go, pick and go, try to bulldoze their way over the line?” Owens continued.
“It can get quite monotonous. Sometimes they’ll score, sometimes they are held up, are awarded the scrum, strike the ball cleanly and then start going through the same routine again. Pick and go, pick and go. Or a referee’s worst nightmare, and that of many supporters I’m sure – a number of scrums on the five metre line, reset, penalty, reset, reset, free-kick, penalty. Endless scrums.
“The thought process would need to change under the proposed new regulation. If the team in possession felt there would be just a sniff of a chance of being held up, but this time they would lose possession by the opposition getting a drop out, they would need to think smarter.
“Look up, use the backs, get the ball out wide, try to play a bit more rugby, rather than just head down and charge.
“Would that not surely enhance the game as a spectacle? How many times, in these situations, have we seen the backs screaming for the ball, knowing they’ve got numbers and the advantage, but nobody is looking wide. As my good friend Jiffy would say many times in commentary, heads up rugby is needed sometimes to make use of the numbers out wide.
“I think that would change with the new law, encourage players to be more adventurous, get their heads up, look at the different options, be more creative and adventurous.
“There is also an argument for saying that a team that has defended so well, under such intense pressure, should be rewarded by being handed possession, rather than have to defend a five metre scrum and the prospect of defending against pick and go, pick and go again.
“As I say, the dropout would be from their own line, not the 22. That’s important because it means the opposition would regain possession in a reasonably dangerous area and can have another go at running the ball back from there.”
You can read Owens’ WalesOnline column in full here.