Time to punish ping-pong rugby


The five-second rule has really sped up the matches, but we need more changes.

Johnnoo on The Roar

The new lineout rules have also been a hit.

Overall they indicate a new direction in taking rugby forward, making it a faster, more running game. And ultimately a game with more action, more skill and a better overall product.

However, I would like to see two more new rules trialled. Firstly, the mark on the full rule being extended to anywhere on the field.

Alternatively, if you mark the ball on the full, you go back to where the kicker kicked the ball, and a penalty given to the team who took the mark. However if it’s in your own 22-metre line, you don’t go back to where the kicker kicked it and a mark is called, as is now.

Before you head to the comments and call the idea crazy, hear me out.

Basically, it’s called rewarding positive play, and punishing negative play and poor skill levels if your team is on the back foot.

For example, if you’re crammed in your own 22 zone, you can’t just do a typical halfback box kick, or a high ball then all charge in in an attempt to pressure the fullback or winger who takes the high ball and knowing there is a good chance he or she may drop the ball, due to being nervous and intimidated.

As players are humans, not robots, they may drop the ball through fear. This rewards the team on the back foot, not the other way around.

Under my rule, if you choose to play aerial Ping-Pong you get punished. The first rule would see a mark called, and play on within three to five seconds after mark called and opposition defence has to wait for you to re-align and set. Or you can just play on straight away, the option is yours.

If the other team drops the ball, the kicking team obviously gets rewarded, as the ball will be knocked on, and a scrum given to you.

Or a direct penalty where the kicker kicked the ball from on the pitch.

This two rule change really improves the game. It really punish the aerial Ping-Pong five-eighths in world rugby and would result in less aerial Ping-Pong.

Furthermore, it improves the player welfare as it gives players who catches the ball on full more protection. No longer would they be cannon fodder and in a helpless position to defend themselves, and allow the other team to re-gain momentum

It would see the end of annoying halfback box kicks in mid-field to get out of jail and negative five-eighths. If you kick, you know it needs to be highly skilled, and away from fast fullbacks or wingers, because if they catch it, the ball goes back to where you kicked it from and you concede a penalty, unless the opposition team catches it in their own 22m.

I like the rule in Australian Rules football. In the AFL, if you take the mark from an opposition kick, you get a mark and rewarded three to five seconds to get on with it, or just play on. It rewards good tactical kicking but also punishes teams who kick badly, not the other way around.

Too many rugby games I have seen halves put up box kicks and midfield high bombs to get out of trouble when their side is losing momentum in a phase, and under pressure.

The result is they are rewarded, as they know a high ball will intimidate the opposition team, fullback and wingers catching it will result it in them being smashed, and the ball is dropped. That, to me, is unfair on the opposition team.

Why should they get punished when the other team’s forwards are playing badly?

On a player welfare issue too it is unfair and gives unfair self-confidence to the team in trouble.

I’d rather a team that gets rewarded who have skilled halves, Mark Ella types, not aimless unskilled box kicking, high ball types.

I disagree with the time out in basketball as it rewards failure when your team is in trouble. The same applies with kicking in rugby currently.

Make the team’s halves be skilful in both kicking and passing, not just kicking. With the mark on the full applying to all parts of a rugby pitch, not just 22 metre zone, this will mean if you kick, you really should be kicking in a meaningful way, and it will be well thought out kicks that take a lot of confidence and risk.

Rugby could be massively improved as a sport

Facebook Comments


  1. League has brutal hitting – yes.
    But damn if it ain’t boring as hell to watch. I just don’t get how the Australians can be so enamored with it ( wait a sec – they’re also into Aussie rules football)

    Makes me think baseball would be a hit “down under”.

  2. Oh, and BTW –
    Those kicking laws he is advocating
    are the ones used when I played
    residence rugby at Stellenbosch.
    Late sixties – installed by Craven
    That was to stem the high kick and
    charge, which was ruining the game
    in that competition and lead to
    many injuries.
    I think they are still in place.
    We also started with tight-fitting,
    collarless jerseys.

  3. Another day another rule change… is there any other sport that has so many?

    Test rugby all all about WINNING the battle of attrition by any means using your whatever’s in your arsenal…

    Tidy up the break-down rules and that’s it… leave the game alone…

  4. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:49 am:

    Couldn’t agree more. Simplify the laws that exist at the moment to take the referee’s “interpretation” factor out of it leaving a black or white scenario (no grey areas) and Bob’s your uncle.

    The laws do not need to be tweaked, just simplified.

  5. Law changes only have impact for the initial few months after that they are found out by technical analysts…that’s their job. The nature of the game is to find a way to stifle the opposition when they have the ball.Put points on the board when you have the ball.

    Withregards to the penalty-mark. wouldn’t make any difference, all it would do is amplyfy the importance of accurate kicking. Any coach will tell you that the kick is only as good as the chase. All kicks should be contestable if done properly and in that case there are hardly any “clean marks”.

    SA kicks less than NZ and OZ, the real issue is that we have gone from being the best kicking side to around 3-5th.It could well have something to do with Frans Steyn moving from 15 to 12 albeit he offers more at 12 than jdv in my opinion. Something to consider. I believe sides were very wary kicking on us with Frans’ cannon at the back, Kirchener has a good kicking game but teams were scared of Frans’ range.

    The heart of our ailments and it has been in my opinion with the boks for the past 2-3 season is that we cannot hold onto the ball long enough in the strike zone. Our ruck protection and phase play retention has been shocking.

    As mentioned yesterday by VanGraan , we get into opposing 22’s fine enough, wether by kicking or running the result is the same.

    In laymans terms…we get into the kiwi 22…20 odd times for 30seconds opposed to the kiwis getting into into our 22 just 10 times but for 90 seconds.

    Basically they spend enough time there retaining the ball through contact or drives and bydefault allowing the defence to fall out of shape or concede the penalty.

    Personally I blame the previous coaching staff, I don’t know what happened in the trinations 2010 but bok performance had absolutely no correlation to how the Bulls and to a lesser extent the Stormers had performed just a few weeks earlier. The Bulls inparticular were holding onto the ball when on attack for all they were worth. you would have thought that this confidence to play with the ball would at least be transferred over to the Boks given the experience of the players and team in general.There s also something to be said that refs at international level still screw us more than they do at superlevel. There is definately an argument to be made withregards to mccaw and pockock being captains and refs freezing in this regard.

    Basically, I believe we have a very good bok coaching unit and they are trying to unfck what was fckedup before and this is taking longer than anticipated through injuries and the many new debutants.

  6. I’ve commented on this before but a lot of your problems disappear if the offside l;aw is properly enforced. The offside law is arguably THE most important law because properly enforced, it allows good teams to create space to manoeuvre and limits negativity of defending teams. The trick is to enforce offside very strictly.

    For instance, the whole need for a five second law falls away because defenders have to scurry back even faster to get onside. This creates an incentive for attacking teams to release the ball quickly from the rucks and get the ball moving.

    A second example is the box kick or up and under – frequently the chasing players are ahead of the kicker but this gets ignored by the officials.

    Go watch a game from the high seats around the halfway line and you’ll see that offside is enforced completely erratically. The players know it and use it to their advantage.

    How do we enforce the offside law strictly? Simple: get the touch judges and the TMO involved. Wire them up and get them to tell the ref in real time who is offside and where. Then enforce it zealously. The ref can then focus completely on the shennanigans at the breakdown.

    Also get the games assessed afterwards to see how many offsides get missed by the officials. Use this as an important basis for performance assessments.

    Get this right and we might get a comeback of the great style of scrummie of yore: a Divan Serfontein type ripping the ball out of the ruck at speed and dive passing it to his backs. Not these guys spend forever at the base of the ruck looking around before kicking it or passing it to a ponderous prop forward.

  7. Reply to il postino @ 12:01 pm:

    Go watch a game from the high seats around the halfway line and you’ll see that offside is enforced completely erratically.
    That’s why I’ve been advocating more
    power for the TMO. From his vantage point
    it’s easy to tell the ref: “Green offside.”

    Agree with the rest of your post.
    I hope they retain the 5 sec law for
    all the reasons you gave.

  8. Reply to il postino @ 12:01 pm:

    I agree. If needed they should add another official. American football has 7 and they call all infringements they see.

    Off-side enforcement should also include players from both teams around the ruck and loosies disengaging from the scrum before the ball is out.

  9. I want them to hammer NZ for their off sides rucking/holding of opposition ahead of the ruck etc.
    Every game this nickel and dime stuff goes on and they seem to get popped every other instance. Refs are getting better at this in 2012 but damn…they were getting away with murder in this regard scot-free 2010/2011.
    To the point where JT even said he was going to teach his kids he coaches to do that.

  10. One thing that pisses me off time and again is Wyatt Crockett’s illegal scrumming. He has been doing it in Superugby and on Saturday he has gotten away with it again and again. Why referees do not penalise him continuously remains a mystery.

    As an example, have a look at the try scored on Saturday against Scotland from the scrum. Think it was the winger Saveia? Anyway, Wyatt strats the scrum with his outside hand on the ground and then starts pushing with the same hand now placed on his knee. At no time does he bind with the Scottish prop. This happens right in front of the ref and nothing comes off it. This try is then repeatedly shown as an example of AB prowess on Supersport. It is pathetic. It should have been a penalty for Scotland.

    This trick of putting his hand on the ground at the start of the scrum was very prevalent in Superugby as well, and I have not seen him blown up for this nonsense once, not even once.