England coach Eddie Jones has encouraged rugby union to make at least two fundamental changes to the rules in order to speed up play.
Jones highlighted the dramatic impact the NRL’s new “six-again” rule had on the quality and speed of the games.
“It’s definitely become less of a wrestle in the NRL and a faster, more continuous game,” Jones told Sky Sport in New Zealand.
“I think we need to make that adjustment in rugby. Now we’ve got this game that’s almost like NFL.”
So what changes should be made?
Firstly, as Eddie suggested, the reserve bench should be reduced from eight to six players, with three of those players being front-rowers. This will ensure fatigue becomes a major factor in all games.
Three front-rowers should be kept on the bench to ensure good scrum technique is maintained as the game progresses, thus, preventing an increase in scrum collapses towards the end of the game.
Secondly, a player should be allowed to tap and go within three metres of where the penalty is awarded. Far too often a player is called back for showing the incentive to speed the game up because he isn’t standing directly where the ref wants him to be.
This rule change will significantly benefit quick, smart halfbacks like Perenara and McDermott who are always looking to catch out tired forwards.
Scrums are one of the biggest issues when it comes to reducing fatigue in the game. It has been suggested that the clock should be stopped while scrums are being set but this would make rugby game last two hours at least.
Another way around the scrum issue would be to award the team in possession with a tap and go when a scrum collapses for the second time. Referees would have to be all over the side in possession deliberately collapsing the scrum, but I believe this gives the forwards a fair crack at a decent scrum, without taking up a huge portion of the game.
Moreover, a five-minute sin bin for repeated breakdown offences (two in quick succession). This will force sides to clean up their work at the breakdown, and in turn, create a faster, more entertaining spectacle. The ten-minute sin bin will remain.
Finally, and this one will be hard to get past the Northern Hemisphere nations, reduce the penalty goal from three points to two. As a result, sides will look to go for the try rather than kick at goal, thus, keeping the ball in play for longer.
As League showed over the weekend, all it takes is one or two rule changes to create a significantly better spectacle for fans. Hopefully, rugby follows suit when it returns in July.