World Rugby statement: Five Significant Changes For 2024 - Ruck

World Rugby statement: Five Significant Changes For 2024

In a bid to enhance the dynamism and appeal of rugby, World Rugby has unveiled a comprehensive five-point plan aimed at refining various aspects of the sport.

Speed and Flow: The focus lies on augmenting the pace and fluidity of the game. Initiatives include expediting the “use it” call at breakdowns, eliminating repetitive scrum options, broadening the scope of the shot clock, reviewing offside laws concerning kicks, and exploring strategies to afford scrum-halves more space and protection during scrums, rucks, and mauls.

Language and Presentation: World Rugby emphasizes a rejuvenated commitment to captivating audiences by adopting a fan-centric approach to marketing the game. This entails ensuring consistent presentation standards across all media platforms and spotlighting moments within matches that truly captivate fans.

Women’s Game: Acknowledging the burgeoning popularity of women’s rugby, there is a dedicated effort to tailor laws and regulations to suit the unique attributes, strengths, and opportunities inherent in the women’s game, thereby attracting a broader audience.

Player Welfare: A paramount concern is the welfare and well-being of players. Measures include a player-centric strategy to enhance welfare standards, such as phasing out dangerous techniques like the ‘croc roll’ and undertaking a thorough examination of breakdown dynamics to mitigate injury risks.

Disciplinary Process Review: In an effort to streamline and enhance transparency in the disciplinary and sanctioning procedures, World Rugby aims to revamp the sport’s disciplinary framework. The objective is to bolster efficiency, consistency, and comprehension among fans regarding disciplinary outcomes.


Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”