Former Test referee Nigel Owens has suggested a couple of changes to flaws in the game’s laws to make it a more entertaining spectacle.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Owens ran the rule over the recently concluded Six Nations, looking at whether some of the law trials introduced to Test rugby had worked as intended.
Owens particularly focused on the 50/22 kick and goalline dropout laws, which he felt needed to be addressed.
“There have been some good instances of 50:22 kicks, but we need to look at the bigger picture of why the law was brought in, which was to try to get teams to drop back a defender or two to prevent 50:22 kicks from happening, therefore creating more space in midfield to encourage teams to attack,” Owens writes.
“To make it more effective, we need to be stricter about players staying on their feet at the contact area. Tacklers are going in to win turnovers and just being dragged to the ground by the attacking side, which means the tackler has to let the ball go.
“It’s illegal to pull a player down in that contact area, so until the officials deal with that more strictly, we are not going to see the full benefits of the 50:22 in terms of creating more space for attacking rugby. The law should stay, and the ruck law should be refereed.
“As for goal-line dropouts, I was a big fan initially because I felt it would prevent attacking teams from numerous pick-and-gos near the tryline, with teams instead attempting to move the ball wide to avoid being held up and losing possession. But I’m not sure it has worked as planned,” Owens added.
“We still see plenty of pick-and-gos until teams get over, we still see plenty of mauls and the number of collisions hasn’t decreased. We’ve also lost the short dropouts we used to see from the 22-metre line where teams would compete to win the ball back, or a quick dropout would be taken, because teams now backed up on their goal-line just kick the ball long to escape and what happens? The opposition kick it back.
“From initially believing it would work, I would now like the goal-line dropout law to go, to be honest. If anything it is having a negative effect.”
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