So, my good buddies at the IRB are once again tinkering with the laws of the game in a bid to make it better. OK, they're only trial laws at the moment, but of the two main trials, I like the fair catch law, although it takes away yet another area of competition from the game, but I really, I'll write that again in caps to make sure you realise how much I mean it, I REALLY dislike the additional points for a long range try. My main reason for this is that I was a forward and I am fed up of every set of law changes taking the skillset of a forward out of the game. How can a try from a 20 meter rolling maul be worth 2 points less than a boring 80 meter intercept?
So with this in mind, I am going to suggest some positive tinkering to 'fix' the problem areas of the game whilst keeping it competitive. I must just explain the picture for this blog, basically I cut my suggested law tweaks to 8 so I could use 8 simple rules in the title and thus use a picture of the delicious Kaley Cuoco from the comedy of the same name on the blog. Cos I'm a perv.
Along the line of the trial laws with tries, to encourage attacking play, reduce the value of penalties. If it's in the 22, 1 point, between the 22 and halfway, 2 points and 3 points for a halfway line howitzer. This should encourage more kicks to the corner, more lovely, lovely rolling mauls and more tries for the forwards!
2) Penalties at scrum time
Simply there are too many penalties at scrums. Sides train to deliberately cheat and con the ref, so in the first of a few scrum tweaks, let's devalue offences such as slipped binds or front rows popping up (and let's face it, this happens so often, the ref often guesses the first offender!) and make it a free kick offence rather than a boring kick at goal. As another tweak, allow the kick to touch from a scrum free kick to give posesssion back to the attacking side and don't allow re-set scrums.
3)Allow the 'hit' at scrum time.
A lot of the front row issues come from the over elaborate crouch, bind, set rubbish we have to sit through, so let's roll back the years, allow the contact to return and speed up the whole process. If the scrum isn't stationary when the ball is put in a free kick should be awarded under the rules of option 2.
4)A scrum ref
As in a ref designated to only come onto the pitch at scrum time, This would free up the ref to, let's say, watch for feeding by the evil scrum half, the scrum ref would watch the open side of the scrum, the assistant ref/touch judge/bloke on the side of the pitch with cold hands and a flag would watch the blind side. Easy. No conning the ref with dodgy binds anymore. Any offences would again be punished with trial law number 2.
5)Bring back rucking!
Speed up play at ruck times. If you're killing the ball, lying on the wrong side, rather than a penalty, you get an angry 19 stone second rows boot in your ribs. Obviously, nothing below the knee or above the shoulders, but allow the boots to fly once again. If you don't want to get stud marks, stay onside and let the ball flow freely.
Each team gets to ask for 1 referral to the TMO per half. Easy one this. You think the ref has missed something, you can call for a review of the play. Do you waste it on an iffy forward pass, or save it for the sneaky headbutt?
7) Ref School
Employ a ref, let's call him Rigel Ewens to go around all professional leagues and school their refs on the correct way to run a game. This would make refs a tad more uniform in their calls, stopping some of the wildly different interpretations we suffer with. Obviously, their would still be some variances due to human nature, but it would be a step in the right direction. Rigel Ewens could then host regular masterclasses with clubs so they too know what is expected from the man in the middle
8)Make the ref accountable
The referee reports should be made public to explain why decisions were made. This could then be reviewed not only by us vocal viewers claiming the ref is always wrong, but also gives the clubs, coaches and players a yardstick to know exactly how they need to behave the next time they have that ref.
What laws would you change? And isn't Kaley Cuoco pretty? Sigh.