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Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 19:38 UK

Saracens boss attacks laws trial

By Mark Orlovac

Saracens rugby director Eddie Jones
Jones has coached Australia, South Africa and in Japan

Saracens rugby director Eddie Jones says the introduction of experimental law variations (ELVs) are more about entertainment than improving the game.

The former Australia coach believes the new laws could take the sport down the line of Twenty20 cricket.

"Better does not necessarily mean more entertaining. If you want entertainment you play Twenty20 cricket," he said.

"That has to be the judgment. These changes have been made with a view to entertainment, not to improving rugby."

The new law variations were trialled in the Super 14 and Tri-Nations competitions this year and will be used in the Guinness Premiership for the first time this season.

Let's make Twenty12 rugby. We could have 12 players, 20 minutes each way with no scrums or line-outs

Eddie Jones
The new rules include legally being able to collapse the maul, no player restrictions at the line-outs and backlines being at least five metres away, rather than level, from the back of the scrum.

A further experiment concerns when the ball is passed back into the 22 from outside that area to be kicked into touch, as there will no longer be any ground gained if it goes out on the full.

But Jones believes the game should not be tampered with, saying: "If the game is played well and refereed well there is nothing wrong with it."

He added: "John O'Neill (Australian Rugby Union chief executive) is the greatest supporter of the changes and the pressure on rugby in Australia is to win fans.

"They're competing directly against Aussie rules, rugby league and football.

"All three are simple motion games where the ball is always in play. To compete, the Super 14 has become a quick-tap motion game.

"The ball is in play a lot but that doesn't create a better game, it creates entertainment - to the detriment of rugby.

"Now there's Test match cricket and Twenty20 cricket but we need to keep Test match rugby. Around the world most people want to watch Test rugby.

"There are pockets around the world who want to see Twenty20 cricket so let's make Twenty12 rugby. We could have 12 players, 20 minutes each way with no scrums or line-outs.

"As the game becomes more professional another form of the game could develop. Sevens hasn't been a success as entertainment."

Newcastle rugby director Steve Bates believes the new laws will force "more innovation" but he expressed concern with how the referees will cope with the changes.

"In our pre-season games the laws have not made a massive amount of difference," he said.

"But what has been crucial is that the referees have been concentrating on them and not on other aspects of the game which make it function."

Harlequins boss Dean Richards, a laconic number eight who won 48 caps for England between 1982 and 1997, jokingly admitted the new rules would have been a "nightmare" for him when he was playing but accepted that the clubs had no choice but to deal with them.

It may take up to a month before everything settles down so that we can actually find out how the referees can interpret the laws

Leicester skipper Martin Corry
"You have to accept the fact they are there," he said.

"If you have done your homework on them then hopefully you will have your game-plan in place and you will have a good understanding as to what they have to offer.

"Everything should be done and dusted and in place now. Whether they are right for the game or not is irrelevant because they are there for the season."

Leicester skipper Martin Corry believes the new laws should not have been introduced but says he has "started to see the positives".

"Initially, I would have said I was quite firmly against the new laws," he said.

"After playing with them, the majority of them make a slight alteration and don't make a huge difference.

"There's a couple that don't change the way we play but the difference isn't as marked as I thought it would be.

"Should they have brought the rules in? No. The Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup are great brands of rugby.

"I know there are problems elsewhere in the sport but why change what we've got when it's doing so well?

"The way the game is going, we're heading to a more Super 14 type of rugby. But it's pointless moaning about them. We've spent the summer developing skills that allow us to make best use of them.

"Now I've accepted them and played under them, I've started to see the positives.

"There's a lot of pressure on referees now. It may take up to a month before everything settles down so that we can actually find out how the referees can interpret the laws."

see also
Rugby union's new order
15 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
Warriors sign up referee Watkins
14 Aug 08 |  Worcester
Warrior Latham impressed by ELVs
14 Aug 08 |  Worcester
Bates keen to test new rugby laws
07 Aug 08 |  Newcastle
Pickering rejects O'Neill claims
14 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
Law changes trial gets go-ahead
01 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Tri-Nations to trial law changes
02 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
RFU questions rugby law changes
23 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Booth concern over law experiment
13 Feb 08 |  London Irish
Rewriting rugby's laws
06 Dec 06 |  Rugby Union

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