World Rugby announced a tweak to the laws this week by making it no longer possible to place the ball at the base of the posts to score a try, sparking an entire debate regarding the need to have the posts where they are.
The amended law now reads: The post protector is no longer an extension of the goal-line and therefore Law 8.2 (a) will read: A try is scored when the attacking player is first to ground the ball in the opponents’ in-goal.
The growing size of the padding at the base of the posts meant it became increasingly difficult for defending sides camped on their line to prevent a team from scoring on the posts without being offside. Now the ball now needs to be placed on the line, some have questioned whether such an obstacle needs to be there.
The alternative that has been frequently suggested on social media is going with American football’s option of having the posts behind the dead ball line, or even Canadian football’s option of having the posts set slightly behind the try line.
The main objection to moving the posts back would be that it would change the entire complexion of kicking for goal, and would reduce a kicker’s range, on top of making the dying art of a drop-goal even harder.
A good reason not to adopt the NFL posts. pic.twitter.com/nQxMZH9qWM
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) May 16, 2020
This may actually be a positive or negative to different people, but it is the collateral damage of making such a change. What’s more is that the in-goal area would have to be uniform, as they would become integral to the dimensions of a rugby pitch, which may be hard to achieve, particularly with some grounds with limited space.
However, it has been mentioned that the posts in American football are bent forward, albeit not to stretch over the entire end zone, which would alleviate such concerns in rugby. If the posts were only recessed slightly behind the try line, the crossbar could even be brought forward to the level it is now.
Although rugby would not necessarily have to adopt the single-leg posts that are used in American football, a point that has been frequently raised is that the ‘H’ posts in rugby are an iconic and traditional part of the game, that should not be changed. Moreover, changing their position, or even shape, would be quite a burden on clubs across the world, not to mention in sports clubs where multipurpose posts are used.
A change like this may be more hassle than it’s worth for World Rugby, but now that the posts have become an obstruction, rather than a scoring opportunity, this is a valid debate.
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