Short on the heels of my earlier piece on the ELVs, the IRB have obliged and issued a directive to referees to more strictly police the breakdowns.
I don’t know about the rest of you but this stinks of too little too late and, dare I say it, doing things rather arse about face.
Now bare with me here. This will be a much shorter piece than my earlier one.
The IRB is now asking referees to strictly apply the letter of the Law. This, of course, is the old Laws we are talking about.
Now my issue with this is as follows: surely this should’ve been the first thing they tried before introducing an entire string of ELVs to try and fix these exact problems?
Good grief but this is shabby. If referees had policed the breakdown strictly we would never have needed ELVs to rectify that situation in the first place. So now that a game is not being played under the ELVs they feel it necessary to issue a directive to tell refs to blow according to the rules?
You know what – there’s very little wrong with rugby but there’s a whole lot wrong with those at the IRB.
As the most senior rugby official in world rugby this falls squarely on the shoulders of one Paddy o’Brien.
Paddy – is there anything else you can manage to mess up?
The article listed below from news24.co.za refers.
Cape Town – SA Rugby referees manager Andre Watson has advised South African supporters to be aware of strict new instructions that have been issued to referees by the International Rugby Board (IRB) and will be in use for Saturday’s Test between South Africa and Wales in Bloemfontein.
The instructions will also be applied to the new global Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) that came into force in South Africa on June 1.
“The IRB has issued an instruction to all match officials to rigorously apply the law at the breakdown – the tackle and ruck,” said Watson.
“There will be zero tolerance for handling the ball in the ruck; zero tolerance for handling the ball at the tackle or ruck when a player is off his feet and there will be zero tolerance of ‘sealing off’ the ball at the ruck.
‘Sealing off’ is the practice of supporting players going off their feet and bridging over the ball to prevent a defending side being able to legally contest possession.
“This is very common by the team carrying the ball and is illegal,” said Watson. “But it has historically been tolerated by the referee when the attacking side infringed.
“The new emphasis is to referee both teams equally and not have to have a higher level of tolerance for the ball-carrying team.”
Watson stressed these were not changes in law but rather the strict application of existing law to ensure a fair contest for the ball. He urged all fans to take note of the renewed emphasis on application that could result in the ball-carrying team being penalised more frequently for:
Not entering the breakdown through the gate.
Having ‘pillars’ (players in front of the last feet at the ruck and maul) interfering and/or blocking defenders attempting to reach the ball or ball carriers.
Playing the ball by means of hands in the ruck.
Lying on the ground and handling the ball.
Sealing the ball off (although there will be occasions when players fall on the ground after driving/cleaning out that does not prevent the opposition contesting the ball).
Crooked feeding at the scrum.
“If this leads to frustration I trust that everyone will understand that referees are merely applying the law as they have been instructed,” said Watson.
“It may mean that there will be more whistling initially but we’re confident that if the coaches and players comply, the game will improve in terms of continuity, better quality ball and fewer stoppages.”Tweet