Northern hemisphere nations are warming to rugby’s experimental law variations (ELVs), Australian rugby union chief John O’Neill said on Friday.
News24 reports that the ELVs, currently being trialled in the Super 14, are aimed at making rugby more free-flowing by reducing the number of penalties and limiting stoppages.
But critics, most vocal in the northern hemisphere, claim the changes are particularly beneficial to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
O’Neill said opposition to ELVs was weakening and feedback from last month’s Six Nations conference was “pretty positive”.
“A number of the Six Nations went in with negative views but by the end of it there were more countries positive than there were negative,” O’Neill said.
“Certainly France, Italy and Scotland are very much in favour of the ELVs, and I understand that England and Wales have shifted a good bit, and that Ireland remain somewhat opposed.”
O’Neill said the variations had been devised to benefit the game worldwide, not just Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
“There seems to be unwarranted concern being expressed by some quarters within the northern hemisphere that this is some southern hemisphere plot, which it absolutely isn’t,” he said.
“I’m at pains to point out this is not a north versus a south issue and there’s a lot of propaganda around saying that Australia is driving this because we’ve got a weak scrum.
“But in fact the statistics in all the trials show that scrummaging is more important than ever under the ELVs.
“The game’s a better spectacle but the fundamentals of the game haven’t changed.”