Rugby Union: Barnes asks for patience

Referee Wayne Barnes new rugby union scrum laws

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Referee Wayne Barnes has asked for patience as new rugby union scrum laws are trialled in the northern hemisphere.

The new rules force opposing props to bind fully onto each other before engagement, while the scrum becomes active when the ball is fed. Scrum-halves must now also feed the ball straight down the tunnel.

These new rules are targeting player welfare primarily and there is the hope that they will improve current problems such as repeated sets.

Some fans, players and club staff have complained about the new rules, including Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill. He insists that the coaches in the Aviva Premiership should have been consulted before the new rules were brought in.

Barnes has spent most of the pre-season visiting clubs in the Premiership and he believes most people are reacting positively to the new rules, which come into effect at the start of the league competition on Friday night.

“There has to be buy in from everyone for this to work and what’s been good is that we’ve gone into clubs and there seems to be a will among players and coaches to make this work,” he said.

“Obviously there will be teething problems and I’m sure we’ll see that this weekend when the season starts. But we have to make sure this works so that we get better scrums and outcomes.

“The changes are going to give us different challenges. Last year it was about being accurate over who collapsed the scrum.

“But with these scrums now being closer together and the bind happening before engagement, we should see things before the ball comes in, so we can look at different things.”

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