Monday 22 April 2019

'The game would be more exciting' - Bernard Jackman backs plans to change rugby's line-out rules

Bernard Jackman. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Bernard Jackman. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

World Rugby are examining a series of significant law changes to be tested in closed trials after this autumn's World Cup.

A three-day player welfare and law symposium in Paris has produced eight new rules designed to improve safety with a particular focus on forcing teams to commit less to defence, thereby reducing the number of collisions.

Among the proposals being considered are a '50-22' rugby league-style kicking law that would enable the attacking team to get the put in at a line-out despite having kicked the ball out.

Former Ireland and Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman backed those proposals, as he told told RTE's 2fm Game On that the changes could have a significantly positive impact on the game

"For safety and spectator value, it has something to offer," he said.

"The big issue is there is very little space with 30 players. There is a huge amount of collisions. The tackles and ruck numbers are off the charts

"The only way you can manipulate space now is through rule changes. From a safety point of view it works.

"The turnaround from going from inside your own half to suddenly having a lineout on the opposition 22, the game would be more exciting.  You can actually shift momentum.

"What you see at the moment is teams in their own half creating nine or 10 phases where they go nowhere and you know they are going nowhere because you can see the line is set. Then they kick it long to two guys who are set in the back field and they bring it back.

"The game would be more exciting."

Also under examination is the possibility of upgrading yellow cards to a red upon reviewing the incident while a player is in the sin-bin and also lowering the height of a tackle to below the waistline.

"Rather than just look at the laws to improve the game as a spectacle and then whether it has a player welfare impact, we have tried to devise laws that have a direct player welfare impact," World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said.

"That's the first time we've looked at it in that sense. This is really about looking at the shape of the game and working out what can actually have a material effect on some of the outcomes we're having in the injury rates."

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