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Refs to clamp down on particularly repugnant 'football' habit that's increasing in rugby - reports

By Ian Cameron
Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens famously told a player that ‘this is not soccer’ and according to reports, rugby’s referees want to keep it that way.


It’s been reported by the Telegraph that referees have been told to come down hard on football style backchat from players in this year’s Natwest Six Nations.

Referees have been directed to use penalties, yellow cards and to march back players for backchat and unsporting conduct towards other players. Such behaviour, which is now the norm in Association Football, has become more common in rugby union in recent years, and authorities are keen to bring it under control.

According to Gavin Mairs in the Telegraph: “It is understood the directive was agreed at referee meetings on the past two Wednesdays, the first of which also involved the Six Nations head coaches in London, the second of which was held at Heathrow airport.”

It’s a problem that is not new, but it is one that is apparently getting worse.

Back in 2007 the then IRB said that “match officials would enforce a zero-tolerance policy when it came to players disputing decisions on the field.”

Then IRB chief executive, Mike Miller spoke of a “growing trend of players continually questioning and disputing referee decisions.”

“The message from the IRB has not changed. Back-chat and arguing with a match official will not be tolerated, nor will any attempt to influence a referee or slow down the match through questioning the referee.”


Now, eleven years later, the message remains unchanged but the ‘backchat’ continues to grow.

Dylan Hartley was infamously sent off in the 2013 Aviva Premiership Final by Wayne Barnes after Hartley called him a ‘****ing cheat’, the first red card ever issued in a Premiership Final.


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finn 5 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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