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Law changes proposed


Law changes, aimed at removing some of the most irritating features of modern rugby, have been suggested by former test referee Freek Burger.

Gerhard Burger writing for SuperSport Zone (www.superrugby.co.za) in an interview with Burger says these include legalising the use of hands in the ruck, replacing yellow-carded players with someone from the bench and making an end to the practice of last-minute substitutions merely to give players a cap at a particular level.

Burger, one of South Africa’s top experts on rugby laws and now a sports consultant based in Cape Town, has aired some startling ideas in an interview with SuperSport Zone.

With the present experimental laws coming up for review early next year, Burger feels a few amendments can rid the game of several unsatisfactory aspects. The emphasis should be on a fair contest throughout, he says.

By making adjustments at rucks, scrums and lineouts, and amending laws pertaining to red and yellow cards, kicking and substitutions, the game can be made more enjoyable for everyone, he says.

“Let’s allow players to use their hands in the ruck to win possession, as long as they are on their feet,? he says. “Most of the penalties awarded in any match are for infringements in the ruck. And to make it worse, referees often have different interpretations of what constitutes a ruck.

“Under the present laws, players resort to counter-rucking to gain possession. This results in some of them charging in and shouldering opponents who are not in possession.

?I feel players who are on their feet at a ruck should be allowed to use their hands to try to win possession.?

Tapped penalties

To stop players being called back for not taking quickly taken tapped penalties and free kicks from exactly the correct spot, Burger feels play should be allowed to continue, with certain provisions.

“If a player does not take the kick from the indicated place, but does everything else according to the laws, play should continue. However, the kicker’s team then forfeits the benefit of the law that compels the opponents to retreat ten metres from the spot.

“But if the kick is taken from the correct spot, the ten-metre off-side rule applies.?

Wheeled scrums

Time-consuming resetting of scrums can also be limited, Burger says. “What happens now is that teams wheel the scrum illegally to gain the put-in once it goes through 90 degrees.

“I feel play should be allowed to continue if the scrum is wheeled through 90 degrees and the No 8 picks up the ball, as long as the scrum retains its formation.?

And the off-side line for the scrumhalf who is not putting in the ball into the scrum, should run through the middle of the scrum, Burger suggests.

“Under the present laws, the scrumhalf may advance all the way to the back of his opponents’ scrum as long as he remains behind the ball. This results in too much pushing and shoving.

“Scrumhalves also jump into the scrum to gain possession illegally and flank forwards swing out their butt to obstruct the opposing scrumhalf. “

Yellow-card offences

Burger’s ideas about yellow-card offences will raise eyebrows. He feels teams should not be reduced to 14 players, or fewer, after players have been sin-binned.

Unlike red-card situations, two options for sin-bin offences could be considered, he says.

One is that a yellow-carded player may remain on the field, as in soccer. But he receives a red card if he infringes again. If he is shown three yellow cards in the same competition during the season, an automatic suspension of, for example, a month comes into play.

Another option is that a yellow-carded player must be replaced by someone from the bench. He may not return at any stage and his team will therefore lose one of its substitute options.

For all red-card infringements, Burger says, penalties could be awarded in front of the offending team’s posts.

To stop kicking duels

To limit the kicking duels that have become part of the game, he suggests bringing in a law that was first introduced in residence rugby at Stellenbosch University.

If a player catches the ball from the air after a kick by the opposition, his team will have the option of taking a scrum at the spot from where the ball was kicked. For this, a “mark? may be claimed anywhere on the field.

Uncontested scrums

Uncontested scrums are the worst thing in rugby, says Burger. These occur when one of the teams does not have enough front-row specialists left because of injuries or red-card offences.

To avoid this, he suggests a radical solution: each team of 22 must have seven front-row players – three on the field and four on the bench.

And if one of the teams still runs out of qualified front-row players, free kicks instead of uncontested scrums must be used to restart play.

Late replacements

Burger feels no replacements must be allowed during the last 20 minutes of a match.

This will make an end to the practice of bringing on players for only one or two minutes right at the end to enable them to receive a “cap? or to add to their number of matches for the team at a particular level.

Five-metre lineouts

To limit the number of television replays to decide on the legality of tries scored from five-metre lineouts, Burger has another debatable suggestion.

When a penalty is awarded and the ball is kicked into touch, the kicker’s team will have the throw-in at the lineout only if the kick was taken from their half of the field.

If the penalty is awarded in the opposition’s half of the field and the ball is kicked into touch, the defending team will get the throw-in.

This, says Burger, will limit the practice of setting up a drive from a lineout five metres from the opposition’s try-line. It is often impossible to see whether a try has been scored after such a drive and a number of time-consuming TV replays are needed.

“Therefore, you get two bites of the cherry (a penalty and the lineout throw) only if the ball is kicked into touch from without your half of the field,? he explains.


  1. The kick and scrum law is a bit over the top. Also the lineout at close quarters, that is the most exiting time for a spectator, the anticipation, anything can happen, most times something does happen. That for me was the biggest dissappointing aspect of the S14 ELV’s. You never saw attacking lineouts(Or much less for that matter).

    But as for the hands in the ruck I’m all for it.

  2. the late replacement might also be impossible to regulate as the coach can just say he is injured.

  3. Loads of sense here.

    I especially agree with the
    1. kicking duels
    2. late replacements
    3. yellow cards.

    Now we have guys with 50 tests
    to their name, of which 40 came
    in the last 20 minutes.

    This farce skews statistics –
    Ollie le Roux and Beanpole are
    good examples.

    I’ve raised these point before,
    but it’s nice to have someone
    like Freek agreeing.

    Question is: Will these suggestions
    be considered in any forum?
    I suppose :shake:

  4. That kicking law will take
    a few fullbacks out of the
    game – and maybe we can get
    creativeness back.

    I played under this law many
    moons ago. It worked well.

  5. but it does not make any sense bringing someone on with 2 minutes to go. More damaging to the player as he will not be properly warmed up and the game most certainly could already be decided.

  6. Reply to onerb @ 2:03 pm:

    Somewhere there was an article not
    too long ago about the shortest
    Springbok careers. If I remember
    correctly, there are a few under
    60 seconds.


  7. Johannesburg – Sasol (SOL), the world’s largest fuel from coal producer, is among nine firms that were on Wednesday fined a total of €676m euros or R7.9bn by Europe’s antitrust watchdog the European Commission (EC) for participating in a paraffin wax cartel.
    “Sasol’s fine was increased by 50% because it was the leader of the cartel,” the EC said in a statement.

    According to the document, Sasol will have to pay the largest fine of €318.2m or R3.7bn.

    This is huge!

    Now the South African competition association should press ahead to fine Eskom for letting the end customer suffer because they didn’t want opposition and their infrastructure collapsing as a result.

  8. Reply to Boertjie @ 2:13 pm:

    They sold shares to blacks at half the price they sell them to anyone else(Read whites because whites are the only colour in sa that’s not black….huh??? wtf???) so you reap what you sow right?

    Nedbank also had a major BEE share program and shortly after that they were fined a huge amount for high bank charges. Vodacom is the latest company to sell shares at a good price to every tom and his dog as long as they are not white. So lets wait and see what scandal they will bring to the table.

  9. Oh yes and escom also had a major BEE shareholder drive a couple of years ago. Conspiracy theorist-me? Not if there’s facts proving me right.

  10. Reply to onerb @ 2:24 pm:

    Shares was/are sold to POC – people of Colour….But WHITE is not a colour :roll: :poop: :realangry: :pity: :blah: :WTF: :tpuke: :bangheadt:

  11. What happens to the money from the fine? I would suggest that they force SASOL to build 10 Proper schools.

  12. Reply to pietploos @ 2:27 pm:

    And this discrimation goes all
    the way, sorry to add.

    At UCT the entrance for whites
    is 91% in matric.
    Indians 88%
    Coloureds 78%
    Blacks 74%

    A non-racist society?
    My arse!

  13. yip, alot of sensible suggestions by freek.

    as for limiting countless replays, the law should be the same as TV umpire in cricket which is if there is any doubt (i.e. no picture of the ball being dotted over the line with control), then benefit of doubt passes to the defending team and it is no try.

    quite amazing to see tries awarded when the camera shots reveal nothing of the ball.

  14. Reply to cab @ 3:11 pm:

    quite amazing to see tries awarded when the camera shots reveal nothing of the ball.

    Or change the law like in that
    silly game the Yanks play:
    If the ball is over the line = try!

  15. Why not stop the stupid scrums, lineouts and kicks all together. Take tap-kicks.
    End those boring 15 phase plays. If the attacking team does not make forward progress after 6 phases turn the ball over.
    Wear helmets.
    Allow forward passes.
    Use a small ball with sharp points that you can throw 60m.
    Paint lines on the field.
    Play with trousers.
    Stop the game for TV commercials.
    Change the laws. Call them rules.

  16. Reply to fyndraai @ 3:02 pm:

    Government continuously shoots
    itself in the foot – may as well
    fine itself too.
    Just appoint a neutral auditor, get
    them to spend the money on housing.

  17. Daar het so ‘n ruk terug
    ‘n e-pos gesirkuleer met
    sneppies van politici van
    alle lande.

    Geen prys vir watter land
    s’n loshande
    die skreeulelikste was nie.

    En walglik vet ook.

  18. Reply to onerb @ 3:48 pm: The purpose of an internal audit or enquiry is to catch corruption and theft, eliminate waste and improve productivity.
    Giving yourself a fine is pointless.

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