Super Rugby

Former Springbok prop relieved common sense prevailed with scrum laws

  • Springbok cult hero Ollie le Roux is glad to see New Zealand's Super Rugby Aotearoa won't implement law changes that lack "common sense".
  • The former front rower agrees with other observers that some of World Rugby's optional trial laws would affect the essence of the game.
  • Players should be trusted to fulfil their end of the bargain when it comes to Covid-19 safety protocols.

Former Springbok prop Ollie le Roux is relieved New Zealand's rugby authorities have drawn a line in the sand by not adopting World Rugby's optional trial laws.

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The country's Super Rugby Aotearoa, which commences next week, confirmed several new innovations for the domestic-based tournament, confining prominent technical changes to just the breakdown area.

None of the other polarising laws such as no scrum resets, the elimination of a scrum as a penalty option and limits on the number of players who can join a maul will be implemented.

All of the governing body's recommended rule changes are designed to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 transmission. 

"I didn't think those initial reports about scrums being temporarily banned overall was realistic anyway, but I'm chuffed that the set-piece remains as it is," Le Roux told Sport24.

"Why must we take away or modify aspects that would severely influence the essence of the game. I don't think we need to tell anyone about the importance of scrums. It's one of the cornerstones of the game, an area of the game that is a weapon for teams and leads to compelling duels. If you're going to take away these things, then we might as well tell the players to only come back when the virus is gone."

The genial but outspoken front-rower, who played 54 Tests in the Green-and-Gold, is all from pragmatism when it comes to rugby dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

"Safety is obviously imperative and I support any initiative to keep players and officials protected. However, it must not come at the expense of common sense," said Le Roux.

"What is the point of limiting scrums to minimise transmission when you're going to pile bodies into rucks or mauls? We've read SA Rugby outlining how they're prioritising screening and testing. That's how you keep players safe."

Sharks assistant coach Brent Janse van Rensburg is relaxed over the prospect of local teams having to adapt to certain law adjustments should SA Rugby insist on utilising it when competitive action returns.

"The challenges of Covid-19 are very fluid and present new challenges for all involved," he told Sport24.

"We will certainly need to keep a regular eye on developments and debate how one can prepare optimally to gain the necessary transfer for when rugby matches do resume."

The key for Le Roux remains players' own sense of responsibility.

"I'm not saying we ever dealt with an issue like Covid-19 during my career, but we've always been relatively prudent. If a team-mate came to training with a bout of flu, he'd be placed in the griepkamer (flu room) and he'd stay there or go home until he was healthy again.

"The players know they need to sanitise regularly and keep within the safety framework. But from there on, a higher power is at work when it comes to the coronavirus. Changing game laws isn't going to mean much."   

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