Rugby fans rejoice – the game’s bosses are considering drastic action including the use of technology to sort out the offside problem.
A radical proposal from World Rugby’s outspoken vice-chairman Agustin Pichot includes using Hawkeye to police the offside line. He hit out at the lack of World Cup action, saying the games were too defensive.
An exclusive report in the British Telegraph says Pichot’s other solution involves the offside line being moved back two metres, to create more space for attacking rugby.
Pichot said officials were unable to properly police the current rule, which requires defenders to remain behind the rear foot at breakdowns until the ball is released.
This move will bring great satisfaction to many rugby spectators, frustrated at the so-called speed of rush defences, and players clearly stepping over the imaginary offside line.
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There will be inevitable questions as to whether Pichot has the power to push changes through, particularly after the Nations League he championed failed to get a foothold. But many will see his words as a vital step in the right direction.
Pichot said: “We have the technology so let’s use it as they do in NFL.
“The referee has too much to do working out what is going on at the ruck while the touch judges have a string of 12 players right across the pitch to judge on.
“Let’s use the technology and that will soon sort it. Within five games, players will know that Hawkeye is watching them and they will stay back. That is my view.
“Or perhaps we should introduce a law that says players should be two metres behind the rear foot.
“We have seen at this World Cup that the space is at a premium. It is too defensive for my own personal liking. We have got to find a way to free it up.”
Pichot also doubled down on World Rugby’s crackdown on high tackles, using strong possible language.
“It is the right thing to do and even though as an ex-Argentina player it hurts me a lot to see what happened last Saturday and the impact Tomas Lavanini’s red card (against England) had, it was the correct decision,” said Pichot.
“Player safety is everything and the head is a no-go area. That is now clear-cut. It cannot be any other way. Rugby is a tough sport but it does not have to be a rough sport.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 8, 2019
“If you want to see people hit, then go and watch UFC. If we hadn’t moved to make the head sacred, then in ten years’ time there would be no sport for mums and dads to take their kids to. We have to change behaviour as well as attitudes.
“All this talk of what it takes to be a hard sport, talk that rugby has gone soft, is bullshit.
“It is not only the professional player that we have to protect. If it comes to it, he can take a hit. A 13 year old cannot. We have to make the game safer. It is as simple as that.”
Pichot also said he wished the new residency rule, increased from three to five years for players adopting a new country, was even longer.
“We have to uphold the integrity of the international game,” he said.
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