All Blacks head coach Ian Foster says the side entry to a ruck from Bok lock RG Snyman, which left Brodie Retallick injured last year, would be avoided as a result of World Rugby’s new breakdown law interpretations.
Earlier this week, World Rugby released a new ‘Law application guideline’ regarding how breakdowns and rucks should be policed.
The All Blacks boss made mention of the fact that one of New Zealand’s star players, Retallick, spent considerable time on the sidelines in 2019 due to a controversial ruck entry from Springbok RG Snyman, saying that kind of injury would hopefully never occur under the new interpretations.
‘We are all clear that side entry on attack is dangerous because often you’re hitting a person who’s not really prepared for what’s coming and hitting on an angle you’re vulnerable. That’s been a clear focus from the referees and we ticked that box to say ‘well done refs, keep going at it.’
World Rugby had assembled a group of ‘breakdown specialists’, including former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, referees Jaco Peyper and Waynes Barnes, as well as former All Black Victor Vito and Foster to look at a range of potential solutions, including potential law trials.
But according to World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, they unanimously agreed that the best practical and evidenced approach is to reinforce existing law, rather than conduct law change.
‘The laws of the game aren’t changing but it was important to clear up some ambiguity in the laws,’ Beaumont said.
Latching on to the outcome of the meeting in Paris and to what Beaumont said, Foster explained he believes the game did not need any new laws to tidy up the breakdown area. Rather, there needed to be a better, more uniform, application of the current laws.
‘We had strong agreement not to add any more layers of law or interpretation, but to really focus on the critical parts of law we all agree make a difference at the breakdown,’ Foster told NZ media outlet Stuff.
‘The reason the meeting was successful was because we didn’t introduce stuff. We actually had clearer conversations about what’s working. Things like keeping focus on tacklers getting away from the ball, keeping focus on the ball-carrier having the opportunity to place, but not being able to roll around and double move. Also forcing people to show they’re holding their weight rather than going off their feet, then trying to jackal the ball.
‘They’re things the game already knows. It may sound boring, but if we keep focusing hard and coach that technical stuff then hopefully we get a better result.
‘At the moment we’re still seeing a lot people off their feet at a breakdown. That creates a whole lot of collisions where people are going from high to low. It’s not perfect, it’s just redefining what has worked for us in the past and making sure we keep good at it,’ Foster said.
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