Controversial breakdown laws dumped by World Rugby

By Steve Hepburn

The controversial breakdown laws have been dumped. Photo / Getty
The controversial breakdown laws have been dumped. Photo / Getty

The trial breakdown laws introduced to domestic rugby this year have been red carded.

New Zealand Rugby high performance referee manager Rod Hill confirmed the trial breakdown laws used in the Mitre 10 Cup have been dumped by World Rugby although there would not be a total return to the old laws around the breakdown.

The trial involving six-point tries and two-point penalties, used in the Heartland Championship this year, has also been dumped.

Hill was in Dunedin over the weekend and told the Otago Daily Times the trial rules went too far and World Rugby had already made the decision to get rid of them.

The big change at the breakdown is the ''fetcher'' will be allowed back into the game and there will be more of a breakdown contest.

The trial laws around the breakdown allowed one to be formed as soon as an attacking player arrived in support of the tackled player.

That led to no turnovers from the defending team and had led to a trend of fly kicking at the ball by teams as players could not get their hands on it.

Hill said the trial perhaps went too far but had to be tried to find out what would and would not work.

''One of the key things is we've still got to have a contest and we quite haven't got that right. So if we can allow that first arriving player to have a dig for that ball then I think we might have got the happy medium,'' Hill said.

''We are trying to have a game for all sizes and we still want that fetcher. The opportunity for them to come in and get the ball but having said that we went the players up off their feet. If you change the laws you can get the players up.

''It is not the tackler who makes the turnover, it is the first arriving player. If we can keep that first arriving player in the game then we might have found that happy medium.''

The new rule would require the tackler to get out of the breakdown and then come through the gate. The offside line would come in place when a player is over the ball.

Hill said they may have gone a little bit too far in what they were thinking.

World Rugby had decided to use these new amended breakdown laws in domestic competitions around the world over the next year.

If the trial was successful it may be introduced in Super Rugby in 2018.

Hill said he was glad the trial took place.

''I knew it was going to make great change for the players, the coaches and the referees. And change does not happen in five minutes. We're just getting to the stage now in the last couple of rounds we have had better breakdowns.

''At the end of the day a trial is a trial. You don't know the outcome until you do the trial.''

Teams did not seem to engage in binding together to drive off the ball.

Neck rolls and hits with shoulders were down and yellow cards had been down by 30% in the Mitre 10 Cup so that was one positive, he said.

Super Rugby would implement one of the changes when penalty tries next year would not require a conversion - it would be an automatic seven points.

Hill said the points trial in the Heartland competition in which tries were worth six points and penalties dropped down to two would also be ditched.

''We just think having points where it is even numbers - like some club competition club finals, there were too many draws. There is no appetite to change the points structure.''

- Otago Daily Times

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