Saracens Director of Rugby Eddie Jones has said that the introduction of the experimental law variations (ELVs) are more about entertainment than improving the game.
Rugbyweek.com reports that the former Australia and then Springbok Assistant coach believes that the new laws could take the sport down the line of Twenty20 cricket.
“Better does not necessarily mean more entertaining.” Jones told the BBC.
“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 have been trialed in the Super 14 and the Tri Nations tournaments and as the IRB has decided to trial them globally they will be used in the Guinness Premiership this season.
Some of the laws include being allowed to collapse the maul, no numbers of player are restricted at the line-outs and the back lines must stand at least five metres away, rather than level, from the back of the scrum.
Jones however says that the game should not have ben tampered with and said, “if the game is played well and refereed well there is nothing wrong with it.”
“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.” added Jones about his former employer.
“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 is not as scathing about the laws and says that 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.”
Over at Harlequins Deans Richards who who 58 caps for England said that 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 as they will be in the game this season like it or not.
“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.”