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IRB decides against law changes before 2011 World Cup

Jonny WIlkinson kicks from hand
Critics argue the proliferation of kicking is making the game boring

Rugby's governing body says it will not consider any law changes ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Critics argue the recently introduced law variations have made teams fearful of taking the ball into contact, with teams kicking for territory instead.

International Rugby Board boss Bernard Lapasset has admitted "concerns about the attractiveness of the game".

The IRB will begin a review of global playing trends in early 2010, including interpretation of the tackle/ruck laws.

The Rugby Football Union expressed concerns that the breakdown laws have been linked with the increasing incidence of injuries, a factor which the IRB hope will be covered by its review.

An IRB statement said: "(The IRB's ruling) Council noted concerns regarding the tackle/ruck area and agreed that in light of a lack of informative data and evidence to suggest clear safety concerns across unions, that the tackle/ruck be captured by the upcoming review."

We are all committed to ensuring that the game is as enjoyable to play, officiate and watch as possible

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset

Numerous laws and regulations govern the breakdown - when the ball carrier is taken to ground by a tackler - and it is one of the most difficult areas of the game to govern.

Critics of the way the law has been allowed to develop claim the advantage now lies with defending teams, with referees inclined to penalise attacking teams for holding on to the ball on the floor after a ruck is formed.

Instead, critics say, teams have resorted to kicking possession and forcing the other team into a mistake rather than attacking with ball in hand, reducing the entertainment factor of the game for viewers.

606: DEBATE

An interim meeting of the IRB's ruling council on Tuesday agreed the current application of the rulings relating to Laws 15 (breakdown) and 16 (ruck) would be adopted into law with immediate effect:

- 15.4(c): The tackler who has gone to ground can, when back on their feet, play the ball from any direction

- 15.6(c): The tackler who stays on their feet has to release that player and then only play the ball coming from the direction of his own goalline.

- 16.3(f): Players must not use their feet in a rucking motion with players on the ground.

"We are all committed to ensuring that the game is as enjoyable to play, officiate and watch as possible," added Lapasset.

"The framework agreed by the IRB council will... ensure that decisions made are in the best interest of rugby (union) worldwide."



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