As I seem to be on a roll with improving rugby union at the professional level, with ideas about the 2021 calendar and the Pro 14, I thought I’d share some additional ideas about the game itself.
- Infringement or collapse before the ball is put into the scrum with no definite penalty to be awarded, scrum half has the option to take a tap kick from his current position in the middle of the scrum. This is intended to help speed up the game, reduce the number of scrum resets and potentially increase the opportunity for attacking play.
- Consider that a penalty during the scrum is awarded at the mark of the scrum but a free kick has to be taken from the back of the scrum, not where the offence occurred, unfairly costing the non-offending team yardage.
- Collapsing a scrum is dangerous and must be penalised with a penalty. However, technical offences such as improper binding could be downgraded to a freekick offence, which again can be taken by a scrum half at the middle mark of the scrum.
- Free kicks – To encourage more running rugby the scrum option of a free kick should be removed (Law 20.3).
- Coaches must name a 23-player squad but can only use 4 of the 8 named replacements. This would mean that more players will have to play a full 80 minutes and remove the ability to change more than half of your starting XV.
- All 3 front row positions must be covered in the event of injury. However, if a front row player is injured after all 4 replacements have been used then the injured player must be replaced by another player appropriately trained for the position but in order to make that change an additional player must leave the field too.
- This change is intended to encourage more cardiovascular fitness instead of power and muscular bulk, which can have an impact on the severity of injuries occurring in the modern game.
- For context the British and Irish Lions second test match with South Africa in 2009, dubbed by some as one of the most brutal games in history, saw four injuries requiring replacement (Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Jamie Roberts, Brian O’Driscoll), the same number as being proposed.
- Instead of blowing for a penalty immediately, referees should be assisting with achieving a turnover by calling “Release ball carrier” or similar. This will create more turnovers, reduce the penalty count, and potentially increase try scoring opportunities.
Just a couple of ideas, which are easy to implement, but could have a positive effect on professional rugby union as a spectator sport by reducing the number of scrums and resets, encouraging more turnovers and exposing players to fatigue and thus increasing try scoring opportunities.