Rugby’s new breakdown law interpretations are being tweaked just two weeks into the Super 14.
Duncan Johnstone reports for RugbyHeaven NZ that Chiefs forwards coach Craig Stevenson confirmed an email had been sent out to teams by Sanzar referees boss Lyndon Bray that would give defending teams more rights in the tackle ball situations.
While there was general praise for the opening round of action, last week’s second round was highlighted by an 18-try extravaganza in Johannesburg which the Chiefs won against the Lions 72-65 in a record aggregate score.
While the referee initiatives this year have been aimed at improving the game’s attacking flow, it seems they may have gone too far and a bit more balance is being sought.
Stevenson said the latest edict offered the second defender to arrive at the breakdowns more rights to contest the ball. He welcomed that.
“I think if that was the case the score wouldn’t have been as high as it was last Saturday,” Stevenson said.
“He (the second defender) is allowed to have a fair contest at the ball and that will give the defending team more rights. At the moment it’s all with the attacking team.”
Stevenson said that aside, the biggest adjustment still lay with the tackler clearing the area immediately. That was were a lot of the penalties at the breakdowns were coming from.
“Even if you make a tackle that’s not a strong tackle and you fall on the wrong side and get trapped and can’t roll away you are going to get penalised.
“We have looked hard at that. We want to adjust as well because we were guilty of that.
“So not only is it the referee’s interpretation but it is also our technique. We need to be squeaky clean because with three yellow cards (last week) … that’s not acceptable.”
Stevenson believed the adjustments being made to give the second defender arriving increased rights would suit the Chiefs.
“If you look back to last year I think we were one of the best teams in the competition at making the tackle, getting up and going past that space and winning turnovers.
“So we have come from being one of the best teams in the competition at doing that to having to change our ways a little bit and telling the boys to keep their hands off it. It will be easy for us to adjust.
“But I think the biggest adjustment we have to make is still the tackler having to roll away.”
Chiefs hooker Aled de Malmanche said adjustments had been needed from week one to week two in terms of reacting to the way referees were controlling the crucial breakdown areas.
That was something the Chiefs had failed to do in Johannesburg under the whistle of Marius Jonker after they had largely done well the previous week against the Sharks with gauging the needs of referee Keith Brown.
Stevenson described the Joburg points bonanza as “interesting” and felt it was a combination of factors highlighted by the Chiefs being a player down over the final stanza and their players having “hit the wall” at altitude.
The Chiefs were simply thrilled to hang on and survive with their win that allowed them nine championship points from their two matches in South Africa.
Now they had moved on to Western Australia and settled well into their Perth surroundings as they prepare to play the Western Force on Saturday night.
Their three injury replacements had joined them and the squad had trained well yesterday.Tweet