I’ve not blogged for ages and that’s mostly because of the World Cup.

By World Cup, I mean the World Cup, the one where dump truck-sized blokes get knocked out cold and the result isn’t decided by people with ponytails kicking penalties.

The William Webb Ellis Trophy
now in South Africa

Of course, if you live in Poland, you would be blissfully unaware of events in Japan over the past six weeks or so, unless you happen to be a UK or Irish ex-pat.

However, there was another World Cup going on in Japan concurrently: the Volleyball World Cup; I’ve just checked with Mr Google and discovered that Brazil won it and Poland were second.

Back to the rugby.

Did I enjoy the tournament? Yes … right up to the point that Ireland lost to Japan. Thereafter it went downhill, and now I’m glad it’s over because there were three things that really irritated me about the coverage:

  1. David Flatman
  2. David Flatman
  3. David Flatman.

Almost a Flatman-Free November

Right, that’s got that off my chest. Oh … and having to get up at a ridiculous time to watch games I would have preferred to watch with a beer in my hand was irritating too.

As were the stupid camera angles that gave you an overhead advancing fish-eye view of play, for no better reason than to demonstrate how well the conventional camera angle works.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup has, for me, put into focus what is wrong with the modern game and I am going to give you a list of eleven changes that should be made before we re-convene in France in four years’ time.

I will probably get a bit carried away, and some of my suggested improvements may go beyond the laws and extend into wider, sociocultural aspects of “the game.”

 So here we go:

TMOs: ban them

Change No1:

Officiating: get rid of the TMO. Go back to awarding tries on the “balance of probability”. Example: a bunch of fat blokes fell over the try line. One of the attacking fat blokes had the ball before everything came to a standstill, therefore the probability is that a try was scored. TMOs do not guarantee correct decisions – they simply waste time. And while we’re at it, “referees’ assistants” should go back to being “touch judges” and have no further input because they can’t even tell if the ball was in or out half of the time.

Change No2:

Stop the clock when a scrum is formed and re-start it when the scrum finishes.

Change No3:

Ban “the bench”. Each team may have two replacements that may only be introduced to the game in the event of injury.

Change No4:

All wrapped up and nowhere to go

Referees should stop penalizing players who tackle. If you (the RFU) are worried about the negative image of the game, and wish to disguise the fact that it used to be somewhat physical, encourage young people to play soccer or even volleyball instead.

Change No5:

Ban the driving-slash-rolling maul, by introducing a new law: following a lineout, a minimum of one pass must be made before a maul can be formed.

Change No6:

It isn’t soccer boyo!

Nigel Owens should take charge of every top tier international match and no one from the southern hemisphere (especially Glen Jackson) should be allowed to referee a 6 Nations match.


Change No7:

Players should not be permitted to leave the ground in an attempt to field a high ball, and therefore they will no longer be able to “milk” a penalty; this amendment will allow other players to compete for the ball legitimately.

Change No8:

it is soccer

The referee will no longer be allowed to “coach” players. Once change No9 has been introduced, this will become less necessary, because more intelligent players will be able to remember the laws of the game without having to be told to, ‘give it up’, ‘don’t go there,’ or have the referee congratulate them because they managed to get through a phase of play without cheating. Players know when they break the laws, and they should know if the ball has been taken back into their 22 or not. The referee is there to punish infringers, not to inform them that he knows what they’re going to do next, and tell them not to do it. This will stop, or at least, seriously reduce cheating.

Change No9:

Rome is a great venue, but does Italian rugby merit inclusion in the 6N?

Okay … this has nothing to do with the World Cup, but I’m going to suggest that Italy gets thrown out of the 6 Nations and Japan are invited to join in their place. The only palpable reason for Italy’s continued inclusion is that Rome is a good place to visit. Tokyo – although I’ve not been there – is probably as good, if not even better.


Change No10:

This one … I know isn’t going to happen, but I think the game should go back to being amateur (see change No8: more intelligent, less robotic players). Players should only be allowed to train twice per week and should be able to demonstrate that they can support themselves by means other than rugby.

Change No11:

The haka – England’s answer was respectful but defiant … and still got punished. Time to ban it

Ban the haka. Yes you read that right. Ban The Haka.I quote from a recent Sunday newspaper (I can’t quote the precise source as a mate sent me a photo of the article): The haka is a rogue element in Rugby. No other leading nation goes through a pre-match ritual like it and whatever its origins, it has become an attempt to intimidate the opposition … more, it suggests favouritism.

So there you have it.

If you have any additional changes you would like to see made to the wonderful game, do please leave them in the comments box

Right … now that it’s all over, roll on a Flatman-free 6 nations!

Hasta pronto, chicos!

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  1. Malcolm Fitter says:

    please suggest a law that allows competition for the ball at the ruch. secondly go back to the old scrum laws instead of these ridiculous instructions. Do not allow scrum halves to keep the ball in the ruck for more than 5 seconds. That will do for now

  2. Graham DOWNEY says:

    Why bother with putting the ball in straight at scrums. Currently ball goes into second row, why not cut out the middle men and put the ball into the No 8’s feet. Oops sorry of course this happens already. Return to hookers hooking the ball and the ball being put in straight and the scrum half standing square. Nothing difficult, and no need for the TMO for this. Even southern hemisphere refs should be able to monitor this

    • Richard Grainger says:

      The ball is supposed to get put in straight and the hooker is supposed to strike for the ball under current legislation. Not sure southern hemisphere refs would be able to monitor this as they want as little to do with the scrum as possible

  3. jim nolan says:

    I would get rid of the law saying tackler must let the tackled player release the ball, the object of the tackle was to stop that. If you let yourself be tackled then you cannot expect help from your opponent

  4. Cec Lowry says:

    Here’s my pennies worth…
    I only agree with you on the following: 2 – Clock, 5 – maul from lineout, 8 No refs advice.
    The rest of your ideas won’t work imho, for debate why next time we meet…
    I like Flatman, brings knowledge and humour to things, so will beg to differ, better than Ugo Monye.
    I agree about the stupid above camera, only any use directly above a scrum.
    Take your point about the Haka, but why not let other countries have their own version? England could do a Morris dance, Ireland could do Irish dancing with pints of Guinness in their hands and the Scots could toss a few haggis around whilst supping a wee dram. The Wesh could do a dragon dance and the French could jump around like frogs.ha ha. The Japs could do a bit of beheading with swords (oops). The Aussies could do a Waltzing..

    • Richard Grainger says:

      One of my usual “light touch” pieces Cec, with a couple of serious points buried in there somewhere. I like your suggestions for extending the national variety of pre-match dances though, and I’m working on your suggestion for the Irish variety. I wouldn’t have a problem with the Japanese dance as long as they beheaded effigies of Flatman – sorry mate, we’ll have to agree to disagree about him … I find him even more irritating than Austen Healey.

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