Some northern hemisphere unions have voiced strong reservations about new rules that are being trialled in the southern hemisphere, Australian rugby boss John O’Neill said.
AFP reports that he said there was a suspicion that the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) had been introduced by Australia to overcome their scrummaging problems.
The ELVs, which are designed to help promote more ball in play and attractive free-flowing rugby, are being tested in the Super 14.
Mr O’Neill stressed the variations belonged to the International Rugby Board and that there was now the possibility of even more scrums than under the existing laws.
“There’s nowhere to hide, so if you’ve got a weak scrum and the other team has got a strong scrum, every time there’s a short arm (free kick) they are going to pack a scrum,” Mr O’Neill said.
“Some of their reservations don’t actually stack up against the analysis.”
He said some of the four Home Nations expressed their concerns when chief executives from the 10 leading Test nations met in Hong Kong last weekend.
“We were a bit taken aback that following that presentation a couple of the northern hemisphere unions indicated some very strong reservations and a very strong level of scepticism about the new laws,” Mr O’Neill said.
Mr O’Neill said the SANZAR nations – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – would make no decision about using the ELVs in the Tri-Nations until after the Six Nations unions convened their forum on the variations on March 28.
He said he would like the northern hemisphere nations to trial the ELVs in their domestic competitions from September 1 so they could play under them for a couple of months before the Wallabies’ November Tests in Europe.
The variations adopted for the Super 14 include:
– Backlines must be five metres back from the scrum.
– On line-outs, quick throw-ins can now go backwards, towards the own goal line.
– For all offences other than offside and foul play, the sanction is a free kick rather than a penalty.
– If a player passes or carries the ball from outside to inside his own 22-metre line and he or a teammate kicks it into touch, the lineout will be from where the ball is kicked out.