"Just blow when you have to" - Nigel Owens demands law changes to save rugby - Ruck

“Just blow when you have to” – Nigel Owens demands law changes to save rugby

Nigel Owens, a former rugby referee, has expressed doubts about his potential enjoyment in officiating a match in the modern day due to the game’s heightened technical complexity in its current state.

Speaking to a radio station in New Zealand, Owens said: “I don’t think I could, or I don’t think I’d like to, referee the game as it is now because it’s far too technical for me. I just like to let the players get on with it, you know, just blow the whistle when you really have to.

“Everybody involved, I think, with the game is struggling with the consistencies around outcomes of some decisions, particularly around foul play and head-contact type of decisions. But, you know, if you look at the whole refereeing of the tournament, so far there certainly hasn’t been a big outcry.”

Nigel Owen’s law changes:

#1. Scrap the goal-line dropout

Owens wrote: “As for goal-line dropouts, I was a big fan initially because I felt it would prevent attacking teams from numerous pick-and-gos near the try line, with teams instead attempting to move the ball wide to avoid being held up and losing possession. But I’m not sure it has worked as planned. We still see plenty of pick-and-gos until teams get over, we still see plenty of mauls and the number of collisions hasn’t decreased.


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“We are also seeing fewer scrums near the goal line, and to be honest I’m not sure that is a good thing. The scrum needs to be an important part of the game, and right now we are not seeing the benefits of it. Rugby must continue to be a game for all shapes and sizes, and at all levels, too.

Attacking teams are also kicking longer knowing that if the ball rolls dead, the defending team has to do a goal-line dropout and they can get the ball back. We’ve also lost the short dropouts we used to see from the 22-metre line where teams would compete to win the ball back, or a quick dropout would be taken, because teams now backed up on their goal line just kick the ball long to escape and what happens? The opposition kick it back.

“From initially believing it would work, I would now like the goal-line dropout law to go to be honest. If anything it is having a negative effect.”