After a thrilling start to the 2024 Six Nations, rugby fans and analysts are calling for two prompt adjustments to the laws of the game.
Antoine Dupont law
Other teams are now capitalising on a rugby law loophole, initially brought to light by Shaun Edwards and Antoine Dupont during the 2023 Six Nations.
“There hasn’t been a change in the laws, but it’s called the Dupont law because a year-and-a-half ago, Antoine Dupont, the French captain, went to the referee before a match and explained that on the kick tennis battles, they don’t have to retreat or be put back onside, as long as they stay static and the catcher of the ball runs five metres or throws a pass,” said Bernard Jackman.
“Then they’re onside. There was a great example from the game on the weekend and it’s something the lawmakers are going to have to change.
“The reason you kick back and forth is to tire out the front-five. Look at the Welsh forwards and backs. That’s not a mark, it was caught outside the 22.
Stopwatches have been introduced with the aim of accelerating the pace of the game in the 2024 Six Nations.
This involves implementing time constraints on goal-kicking, scrums, lineouts, and incorporating water breaks. The bunker system has also been introduced to speed up decision making in games.
While these initiatives is a positive step forward, there is a lingering question regarding the omission of the Caterpillar Ruck, which is arguably the most egregious form of time-wasting in rugby union.
England, along with other nations across the opening round of the Six Nations, employed this tactic on multiple occasions during their 27-24 victory against Italy, yet it continues to evade the scrutiny of World Rugby’s regulatory authorities, raising concerns about its persistence in the sport.
What is a caterpillar ruck?
The Caterpillar technique involves players lining up single file behind a ruck, creating a sequential formation of players behind it. This formation provides a significant advantage for the scrumhalf, allowing them to execute box kicks without the concern of opposing defenders charging them down. This is because these defenders are positioned too distantly from the scrumhalf to effectively intervene or challenge the kick.
One fan wrote: “I hope world rugby comes to their senses and starts next season outlawing the caterpillar. Definitely not needed in the modern game.”
Another added: “Surely a law could be brought in stating that once the ball is available at the back of the ruck, no extra players may join unless it’s to prevent a counter ruck attempt, or something.”
A third commented: “As if the game isnt slow enough, they do this 4 or 5 times a game..hate this stuff..soooo boring.”
“If in doubt, play on” – Wayne Barnes call for three changes to ‘improve rugby’
Discover the three significant changes Barnes advocates for rugby union in the current landscape, aiming to enhance the game’s appeal and competitiveness.
Change one: Referee reviewers must encourage the game to flow
He wrote in his column: “With the game crying out for less stoppages and for more attacking rugby, a general philosophy around allowing the game to flow should be the focus of what the selectors are feeding back to match officials.”
RUCK Judgment: Spot on – it just makes sense that referees are recognised for promoting gameplay rather than enforcing rules to the extent that the game halts more frequently than in American Football.