‘Rugby needs more action’


How can we get more action in a 80 minute match to grow the game, asks Matt Burke.

Rugby Heaven

Looking at rugby as an entertainment industry, it cannot be complacent about the threat posed by Australia’s other winter sports.

In some sense, we in rugby shouldn’t have to worry about what the others are doing. We have a very specific product for a unique market. That market is ever expanding but embracing newcomers is needed to grow the game. Yet are we still sitting back and just rolling with the punches? I am talking about the amount of wasted time in each match. How can we get more action into each 80-minute match?

I have a few ideas to share with you.

It seems to go on all around the park from scrum time to kicking goals. Just last fortnight in the Six Nations game between Ireland and England, a scrum was called at 73 minutes and the ball was finally delivered at 78 minutes.

Some may call this strategic. I say bent-arm penalty. Get the game going again. Perhaps the time keeper in the stand has to be the one that dictates when the clock should be stopped.

Kicks for touch, the walk to the line out, the reset of the scrum, the attempt at goal. Periods where minutes could be added. I think there has to be some commonsense around the scrum time. Time-wasting around scrum time is fast becoming the bane of rugby. The new calls have made some difference.

So what’s the smartest thing to do regarding scrum resets? I am an advocate of safety first, this has to be paramount, but time-wasting goes hand in hand with the constant resets. I am sure if you asked the players what they wanted, the response would be a clean scrum.

I want a contest in this area. I think it is fantastic to watch. The tactics to out-manoeuvre the opposition, to get the right side up to allow for better ball for the halfback is great to watch, but if the scrum goes down – and how many times have we seen the ball at the back of the scrum only to be reset – perhaps this is where the referee could intervene and make a judgment call.


If there is no threat to safety and the ball is sitting at the No.8’s feet, let it play. Perhaps a call of ”no push” after the collapse could allow the ball to get out. I would suspect no one in their right mind would push after the scrum went down anyhow.

I was recently at a school rugby camp, and there were three scrums reset in the game they were playing. I was standing on the touchline and the winger cried out, ”We’re not playing Super Rugby.” My initial thought was, that’s a nice little quip … for a winger and then it dawned upon me, is this what the public are taking away from our game? An area to improve.


Another area of wasted time is one of the skills that I used, the goal kick. You can’t tell me the kick has got so complicated that the rigmarole before kicks these days will make the ball fly any better than just stepping up and hitting the pill.

I completely understand penalties are so important and have a major impact on games, from my point of view turning five points into seven is more important and yes there has to be an element of concentration, yet all the trimmings that come with the kick these days could be culled.

I used to take about 22 seconds to kick the ball from when I first set it up on the tee. Dan Carter about the same. Looking back now, perhaps that was too long. Standing there on your lonesome, your mind can start to play tricks on you, even the best of them get some self doubt by taking too long. So much for all the goings-on before the ball. Reduce the time to 30 seconds or stop the clock.

Finally, the breakdown again is an issue for me, especially coming into a heavily anticipated Lions series. What is needed is a fast-paced game where both teams have the ability to play the ball. That means getting rid of the ball around the ruck.

I mentioned last year how the No.7s in world rugby are becoming so good that it halts the continuity of the game. Well, this year there have been changes to the ruck area again and those changes left those players smiling at the referees last week, implying ”come on I did nothing different to the ruck before but you pinged me for that one”. The refs no doubt have a tough one getting this right. Good luck there.

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  1. ABSOLUTELY! (as the commentators say ad nauseam).

    By all means stop the clock for resets and kicks,
    as is the case for replays and injuries.

    Give the kicker 30 sec. to scratch his balls,
    adapt the praying mantis posture, stare at the
    posts, test the wind with a grass blade – whatever.
    But not at the expense of action!

    With so many penalties they can even sell an
    additional 5 minutes plus advertising while
    the ball is being set and all the above happens.

    The most boring part of a game.

  2. Reply to Jacques(Bunny)Die wat nie hier is nie is elders!! @ 1:01 am:

    f being a variable that is determined by taking the style points out of 10 awarded for the try by the ref, linesmen, replacement ref and television ref with the lowest score discarded and the number then divided by 4 to give a mark out of ten for the try?

    Like Shields has always wanted?

    In that case I’d rather go watch girls gymnastics and volleyball to be honest… at least there is some eye candy as opposed to rugby players

  3. WWE is entertaining but it is not real.

    MMA is also entertaining and real…

    MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world for television audiences.

    Last year on EFC16 weekend there was a home test v NZ and Kaizer Chiefs v Pirates weekend and a T20 and a Big golf tournament. EFC (South Africa’s pro MMA tournament) was on free to air TV from 22h30 on Friday night when most people are in pubs or clubs. The others were on Saturday in prime time spots.

    EFC16 was the most watched television sports event in AFRICA that weekend and easily beat the pants off rugby, soccer, cricket and golf.

    Lesson 1:

    Forever tinkering with rules is not going to make the game more entertaining.


    In the period post 1995 and 2007 in South Africa saw the biggest surge is support for the Sprinboks.

    In the post 203 England had a massive upsurge in young players.

    In 1992 Australia had the biggest take up of players wanting to do union in their entire history of union.

    Lesson 2:

    Want to get new supporters? WIN because winning entertains sports fans… not losing


    This article is about Australia yet again trying to tinker with the rules of the game to suit the way they play. Keeping rugby alive in Australia is their problem, not ours…


    Leave well enough alone… constant tinkering and changing just annoys fans.

  4. I dont really have an issue with kickers taking time. It allows for replays of the kick. Maybe penalty kicks should be time-controlled but not conversions.

    My issue is with scrum resets and the rolling maul.

    and fat ones in the backline

  5. I just find it absolutely hilarious that the Aussies want to make the game more entertaining!

    Haven’t they sat through one of their own derbies in recent weeks?

  6. I think there is a simple solution for time wasting and it has been mentioned.

    Simply stop the clock when the scrum is called and let the clock start running once the ball comes out. Teams will very quickly stop wasting time as there will be no benefit in wasting time.

    Same with kick to goal, it takes roughly a minute to kick to goal, stop the clock and give the kicker his minute and then the clock starts with the restart.

    Same when a try is scored, from the moment that the try is scored the ball is in effect dead until the restart from the middle.

    Lineouts, I think is fine, if you are going to sve 20-30 mintues with scrums and kicks, the lineout is more of a planned strategy so also a breather for the big guys.

  7. I disagree with stopping the clock – this will turn into AFL style advertising stops… If the clock is stopped the players won’t be in a hurry to get going again and the time will extend further which in reality will cause a game to last 2 and a half hours and I certainly don’t want that even if I have 10min more action :bangheadt:

    No IMO the ref should Identify the team wasting time and overturn the penalty or march the offending team back 10m. That will get them moving!

    Kicking conversions and penalties – yes these can be done faster. Line-outs: ref already has the power to award a free kick against time wasting. Scrum – take out the hit and they will be more stable!

  8. Scrap the place-kick. All kicks at goal must be dropped kicks, with defenders bearing down on the kicker.
    It’ll save a ton of time and make tries more important.

    MMA is real?
    I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

  9. Hoessit, Tjops.

    Was expecting utter tripe from the Ozmob, some of it actually not all bad.

    Something to fix/address constant collapsing of the scrum might be advisable. For more than one reason, safety and as not to waste time & energy.

    Wouldn’t suggest tinkering with time, at all. Watch a few NFL and basketball games and just see how immensely irritating (and ironically time consuming!) a constant adjustment and readjustment of the clock is. Steer clear methinks.

    “Entertainment”. Must be the new buzz-word but what a bunch of cold cow :poop: . I saw a clip someone labeled “Most entertaining 3mins of rugby ever. Highlanders vs. Chiefs, Tim Nanai Williams try”. Entertaining? Maybe, but it also looked like your average game of tjokkerrugby for large parts. :shake:
    “What is needed is a fast-paced game where both teams have the ability to play the ball.” Leave that for 7’s, it a great part of the code. 15 Man rugby is much more than just that, and it would be a sad day for me when rugby is abandoned for the sake of entertainment and sideshows become more important that the actual game.

  10. I think I’m not a real rugby fan.
    Only game I’ll be watching is
    Stormers v Sharks.
    I don’t even care what the other
    sores are.
    Or is this what SS rugby has done
    to me? Just too much of an overload.