Referees are ruining Test matches by being more focused on trying to teach props how to scrum and less on enforcing the laws of the game, according to former England hooker Brian Moore.
In his regular column for the Telegraph, Moore dove into Saturday’s Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham, which was edged by Eddie Jones’ side.
While a closely fought encounter featured four tries – three of those to Wales – it was largely a stop-start affair with plenty of scrums and stoppages.
“An 80-minute game actually took 101 minutes to play,” Moore wrote. “Even accounting for the fact that there were two longish breaks for injury, there were other long bouts of inactivity which marred the spectacle, including a turgid first half which did nothing to promote rugby to any but its most avid supporters.
“You can, if you like, dismiss the following as an isolated example or, if you are honest, you can admit that what I describe happens too often and turns off potential rugby converts.”
Moore praised match-day referee Mike Adamson for being sharp in open play and at the breakdown, but was concerned with how long it took for scrums and lineouts to be completed.
“It is not a referee’s job to advise players how to scrummage. Not only are they not qualified to do so, but instructions like ‘I want balance’ ‘Stay down’ and ‘Hold your weight back’ have no agreed definition and could mean something different to every player in both front rows.
“In no other aspect of play do referees feel it right to coach and players know what they should do without being told. A referee’s job is to enforce the law and the game would be better off if they did this in the scrum.
“When you have new laws, like the 50/22 experiment, it makes a mockery of its positivity if you then allow an unnecessary and inexplicable break in play. The whole Welsh lineout, and England hooker, Jamie George, were ready for the throw, only for Adamson to allow the home forwards to have a two-minute conference and a water break.
“The latter must become properly regulated. In football drinks breaks were sanctioned for one minute in each half and cricket allows one every hour. Rugby should do similar because the haphazard way in which they seem to occur is becoming daft.”
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