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'We have to speed this game up': Radical law changes to be trialled in QLD

By AAP
(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

World Rugby will be watching closely after approving a host of new rules to be trialled at two Queensland Reds games.

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Top-tier referees Nic Berry and Damon Murphy will oversee the trial games between the Queensland President’s XV and a Queensland Reds development squad on October 9 and 15.

Time limits will be placed on removing the ball from the ruck, packing the scrum, taking penalties, restart and conversions, and delivering lineouts.

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Wonky throws will only be penalised if the opposing team is contesting, while there will be no yellow cards for deliberate knock downs and only three phases of advantage.

Versions of these laws were also trialled in an informal preseason game between the ACT Brumbies and NSW Waratahs.

The changes come after a round-table of Super Rugby officials earlier this year flagged issues with ball-in-play time and what was viewed as over-officiating.

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“We saw this series as an opportunity to pick the best out of (the proposed rule alterations) that wouldn’t require fundamental changes to the game and allow the referee some scope for interpretation,” Reds football boss and former Wallaby Sam Cordingley told AAP.

“World Rugby will be analysing the games to see how potentially they can be brought in.

“There’s a fabric of the game you want to sustain.

“We are challenged in Australia in terms of popularity (with other codes) but they’re still selling out stadiums (around the world).

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“There’s minor tweaks we can make and it’s just common sense.”

Safety concerns have been flagged by current Wallabies about the addition of a scrum clock but Cordingley is confident a 30-second notice after the mark is set will not be risky.

“The game is about fatigue and teams that are fitter and can play an 80-minute contest should be rewarded,” he said.

“What’s the argument? Wait until everyone’s fresh, then set the scrum? That’s nonsense, we have to speed this game up.”

The rule tweaks come as public frustration around officiating reaches new heights, with Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos this week strongly backing calls to limit the involvement of television match officials.

“(The) shape of the game, it is a concern for us,” he said.

“We’ve got to the point where we’re having the game managed by third parties as opposed to the people in the middle, who should be co-ordinating what takes place.”

Former Wallabies halfback Will Genia, still playing in Japan, wrote this week in a column for The Roar he “very rarely watches a game live anymore because of the impact the TMO is having on the sport”.

Rule changes were among Wallabies great Andrew Slack’s first thoughts when the 2027 World Cup was confirmed for Australia.

“We’ve discussed how the game can be better law-wise, but I don’t see it happening before 2027,” he told AAP.

“I’d love to see a less stop-start game, so people who aren’t rugby people get into it.”

– Murray Wenzel

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