England head coach Eddie Jones believes rugby needs to follow in the footsteps of the NRL and introduce law changes in an attempt to speed up the game.
Speaking on Sky Sport‘s The Breakdown, the former Wallabies and Japan boss said that although the ball remains in play for around 35 minutes, test matches can last for nearly two hours as a result of in-game head injury assessments and officials “talking more”.
Jones said the game has become “almost like the NFL” due to increasing stoppages in play, and suggested potential amendments to the law to help increase the pace of the sport.
“We need higher quality rugby. The game has gradually moved along a track and hasn’t been looked at carefully enough. Now we’ve got this game that’s almost like NFL,” the former Wallabies and Japan boss said.
“The NRL is a good example of when you make one adjustment to a law and you change the game for the better. It’s definitely become less of a wrestle in the NRL and a faster more continuous game and I think we need to make that adjustment in rugby.”
The NRL, which returned to action on May 28 after a two-month lay-off due to the coronavirus outbreak, introduced a ‘six again’ rule whereby teams are handed a fresh set of six tackles for an infringement at the ruck instead of a penalty.
The rule change was designed to prevent teams from slowing the ball down in the tackle, which yielded high-octane, free-flowing action in the league’s first round back from its suspension.
Jones said that rugby union could implement similar rules to create the same effect, suggesting the number of reserve players on the bench be reduced from eight to six.
“I’d only have six reserves and I reckon that’d make a hell of a difference,” he said.
“Then you’d have the front-rowers, you’d have one backrower that’d have to cover the back five, one halfback and then one back that covers the rest. That would introduce some fatigue into the game.”
Additionally, Jones recommended that free kicks be awarded in place of scrum resets, which have become notorious for winding chewing up the clock throughout matches.
“I need to think this one through a bit… we need to go to a differential penalty where you can’t kick for goal and you’ve got to take a quick tap or kick to the line. We’ve got to try and get some more movement in the game.”
New trial laws – such as golden point extra-time and 20-minute red cards – have been implemented ahead of the new Super Rugby Aotearoa competition that is set to kick-off next Saturday.
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