Nigel Owens calls for radical change to rugby replacements, it would be a huge change - Ruck

Nigel Owens calls for radical change to rugby replacements, it would be a huge change

Nigel Owens has voiced concerns regarding his ability to find pleasure in officiating a modern-day match.

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The Welshman attributes this unease to the game’s ever-increasing technical intricacies and complexities 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.”

Before the Six Nations, the Welshman discussed a number of changes he’d make to how the game is currently being refereed at the highest level…

Nigel Owen’s law changes:

#1. Less replacements

Owens, who would like to see the number of replacements reduced from eight to four or five, said: “This is something I have been saying for a long time.

“Every question and answer session I do I am always asked which law I would like to change and I always say I would like to see the substitution law changed.

“We as referees and referee managers in World Rugby, we’re always looking at things that need to be applied firmer, which contributes to the safety of the game and that is an ongoing process

“It is a physical game and unless you change it beyond total recognition of what the sport is, you are going to have to accept that there is going to be a risk of injury, but a minimal risk if you compare it to people that are injured everyday in walking about doing nothing.”

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#2. Stricter refereeing of RUCK’s

Owens wrote: “To make it more effective, we need to be stricter about players staying on their feet at the contact area. Jackallers are going in to win turnovers and just being dragged to the ground by the attacking side, which means the jackaller has to let the ball go.

“The attacking side commits two, sometimes three players to the ruck to secure possession, but the defending side often decide not to continue contesting, and you end up with more defensive players on their feet, fanning out to cover the space, than attackers.

“It’s illegal to pull a player down in that contact area, so until the officials deal with that more strictly, we are not going to see the full benefits of the 50:22 in terms of creating more space for attacking rugby. The law should stay, and the ruck law should be refereed.”

#3. 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.

“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.”