- Eddie Jones said cutting the number of reserves and returning to 21 players per side in rugby would be a good start.
- Jones would try to remove the bane of many rugby viewers - endless scrum resets.
- "There's no doubt England and South Africa could change their games accordingly.”
England coach Eddie Jones says two law changes are much needed to speed up a stagnating game with its endless stoppages.
According to the Stuff website, the man who masterminded England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final win over the All Blacks says reducing the bench from eight to six players, and cutting the number of scrum resets and introducing a free-kick instead would be a great start.
World Rugby recently published 10 law trial recommendations which could be adopted by an individual unions to help rugby proceed safely during the Covid-19 era.
One of those law trials was in fact a free-kick awarded for scrum resets.
However, these recommendations were not adopted by NZ rugby officials, who instead will be introducing a series of exciting new innovations for the New Zealand Aotearoa Super Rugby tournament which kicks off on Saturday, 13 June.
“We need higher quality rugby. The game has gradually moved along a track and hasn’t been looked at carefully enough. Now we’ve got this game that’s almost like NFL,” Jones told Sky TV’s excellent The Breakdown show.
Jones said Test matches now run for longer, up to 110 minutes, with stoppages increasing for head injury assessments, television match officials and referees “talking more”. But the ball in play remains at around 35 minutes which hasn’t changed for 20 years.
“It’s gone too far down the power line and we need to get some more continuity back in the game. We need to make the game faster,” Jones said.
“The NRL is a good example of when you make one adjustment to a law and you change the game for the better. It’s definitely become less of a wrestle in the NRL and a faster more continuous game and I think we need to make that adjustment in rugby.”
Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL), which resumed last week, introduced a ‘six again’ rule where teams get another six tackles for an infringement at the ruck.
It was designed to stop teams slowing down the ball and got the desired result, with reopening weekend getting a widespread thumbs up for its speed and entertainment values of matches.
Jones said cutting the number of reserves and returning to 21 players per side in rugby would be a good start.
“I’d only have six reserves and I reckon that’d make a hell of a difference,” he said.
“Then you’d have the front-rowers, you’d have one back-rower that’d have to cover the back five, one halfback and then one back that covers the rest. That would introduce some fatigue into the game.”
Then Jones would try to remove the bane of many rugby viewers - endless scrum resets.
“I need to think this one through a bit... we need to go to a differential penalty where you can’t kick for goal and you’ve got to take a quick tap or kick to the line. We’ve got to try and get some more movement in the game.”
Asked by The Breakdown host Jeff Wilson what effect his mooted law changes would have on the power games of his own team England, and their World Cup final conquerors South Africa, Jones was adamant any team could adapt.
“We’ve seen New Zealand go from an 80 percent [win rate] team and under Graham Henry and Steve Hansen go to a 90 percent team which is the most incredible record. How did they do that? Graham and Steve both benefited from coaching in Wales and brought back that consistency in the set piece.
“When I coached Australia, we always took the opportunity to beat New Zealand by putting pressure on the lineout. Now New Zealand has got one of the best lineouts in the game so you can’t get to them through the lineout. They’ve got a strong scrum.
“Their game has evolved from being based on transition to a game that could be played at set piece and played through transition. And there’s no doubt England and South Africa could change their games accordingly.”