Graham Henry likes the idea of two referees, tag-team officials to solve rugby's troubles. Wynne Gray has a few more suggestions for rule changes to improve the game

1. Speak up, ref

Mike up the match officials, then we will know what they are ruling instead of them waving their arms about as though they are controlling aircraft docking or passengers at train stations.

It seems absurd that millions can sit in their lounges or clubrooms and get a good idea on referees' decisions through television, while those who fork out the dosh and go to watch games live, have to bung earplugs in to try to catch, often without any great success, those same rulings.

We've got modern stadiums; wire them up so we can hear what referees are telling the players.


2. The breakdown

Sort out the breakdown, please. It is one area of the game which remains a shambles.

You watch players go off their feet, holding the ball, not releasing opponents, taking players out without the ball, handling on the ground, driving in from the side and wonder at officials' silence.

Then for something which looks innocuous at a tackled ball pile-up, the whistler is playing a tune.

Headscratching? You betcha, more bemusing than some of the TMO decisions.

Often tacklers feel they have felled an opponent and look to effect a turnover, only for their alleged victim to start crawling away on all fours.

It is bizarre.

The tackler and his victim should both be ruled out of play, forcing their teammates to hit the ruck to defend or grab a turnover - leaving more space in other areas of the field.

3. Slow throws

Quick throw-ins are all very well for the flow of the game and those who think stopwatches and time in play are crucial components of the sport.

Ask the concrete mixers how they feel. Rugby was supposed to suit players of all sizes but it seems the latest craze for frenetic action is breeding super athletes at the expense of others.

If a defender manages to extricate his team from a dicey situation in his 22 and kicks the ball well downfield into touch, an opponent can then just flip the ball in and carry on the attack.

That does not reward the defender for great skill, nor does it allow his forwards to compete at a set-piece play.

It also discourages teams who want to play a kicking style and risk giving away possession or overhitting the touchlines. We haven't allowed quick scrums, why quick lineouts?

4. Crouching pause, hidden engagement

Let those who have the small numbers on their jerseys deal with the scrums. The elongated crouch-touch-pause-engage sequence has been adopted as a sensible safety measure.

That works at the lower levels of the game, but once players enter the professional arena from Super Rugby upwards, they should be left to operate the dark arts themselves.

The parameters are there.

Transgress and referees can penalise those who collapse scrums, bore or fold in, or use the myriad of other tricks props get up to.

While we are it, how about the ball down the middle of the engagement so sides can fight for tightheads?

5. Do away with decoys

Decoy runners in midfield should be renamed. They are blocks and screens against the defending side. They are often illegal, obstructing or hindering tacklers from their duties.

It is a growing trend, but one which fits more comfortably in American football than rugby union.

Manipulating defences has always been one of the intrigues in test rugby, using subtle moves to gain half a metre by forcing some hesitation from tacklers or opening a gap through great deception or passing.

With defenders now strung across fields, we are seeing more and more of the decoy blocks going at that line to hide a move in behind or impede tacklers.

6. Substitution stupidity

Rugby used to be a 15-man game. For most of the time anyway, unless some bloke broke some bones, pulled a muscle or needed some serious suturing.

Wheeling players out for a final few minutes to give them a test jersey is an insult, especially to the bloke who has slogged away for 76 minutes to create a result. It is also very messy with substitutes, signals boards and team and match officials all littering the touchlines and distracting from the match.

If substitutes are going to be permitted, they should be made in the first three quarters of the match.

Then they are tactical rather than a reward for being a great help at training that week, or a patient tourist.

7. The ref's buddies

Touch-judges, assistant referees, bengal lancers; call them what you like. They need to be more involved and accountable.

Not for the nitpicking nonsense some want to indulge in, but the sort of skullduggery Welsh flanker Andy Powell got away with on Richie McCaw.

So let's start with one area they neglect and which is a blight on the game. Offside at breakdowns, rucks and tackled ball zones.

There is little room for the attacking side to do anything with the ball, but when defenders are cribbing half a metre around the fringes, when they are shuffling up and in behind the referee's back, then his assistants need to let him know.

Penalise them, kick them to defeat if you like, because they are cheating. This is no dark art at the bottom of a ruck or maul - it is out in the open and easily detected.

8. Time out

The clock is stopped when players go down with injuries, imagined damage or in sympathy for a wounded or bootless comrade.

Fair enough. Those paying the sort of big bucks for World Cup matches next year do not want to see that tariff ticking away like a taximeter in Auckland rush hour.

A time limit has been placed on goalkickers in a bid to deter those who appeared to dial the Vatican, run through their their latest psychology lesson and recall their last 17 kicks at training before they launch into their attempt.

How about just stopping the clock? From the time a side points at the posts, the ref should pause his timepiece.

But even better, take that timekeeping job away from the referee entirely, let him get on with running the game while some other official, wired to the ref, can be in charge of having the game start in sync with television and ending after 40 minutes each half.

9. On the telly

Empower the TMO, video ref, seeing-eye dog. It makes all the sense in the world and if it means a match has a stronger chance of getting the right decision, then great. Imagine the drama of a World Cup final being decided by such a ruling.

The official with the television screen should also be allowed to go back a little further in the play, if he senses there had been some foul, blatant illegality, undetected knock on, forward pass or offside from the defenders in the leadup to the touchdown.

If television viewers can see that in a try-scoring move from their lounges, then why shouldn't the TMO have a similar advantage to help his referee?

10. Ted likes the tag-team referee idea as a way of combating officials' fatigue, but I reckon it would lead to more confusion, ruling variations and arguments.

New Zealand has a history of inventors and this is time for someone to come up with a machine, a unicycle/Segway cross, made of soft plastic powered by a noiseless force which would let a referee zoom all round the park.

Something like that, or a jetpack on his back which would allow him to whizz around and even get to rucks to watch the first offenders, hover over scrums to get a bird's-eye view on which frontrower was offending.

Christmas is coming, one of those to each World Cup referee please.