Rule changes can make rugby exciting again

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Sir, I think rugby needs some rule changes. The game now doesn’t engender the excitement from open play that most of us remember seeing and playing 30 years ago. Alas, least of all from England.

The scrum, and the penalties surrounding it, have become far too important — and stultify today’s game. There’s also a crying need to change the points system. I suggest the following rule changes.

First, like rowing, it’s high time rugby had lightweight (13 stone and under) and heavyweight divisions. Second, all spectators want to see freestanding or clear tries. That is, a try scored by a player grounding the ball alone — having beaten all the opposition. That’s the main aim of the game. This merits 5 points. A try scored by a player tackled at “touch down” by one or two opponents merits 4 points. A try scored by a driving maul or scrum merits less, only 3 points.

Third, a drop goal is exciting to see — unlike a penalty — and risky to perform and merits 4 points, as it used to be. Only six drop goals have been scored in 46 matches of this World Cup.

Fourth, referees must penalise when the ball is not put in “straight” at the scrum — as they do meticulously at line outs. Scrums would be over quicker and hookers would have to “hook”, so benefiting the flow of the game. Penalties surrounding the scrum have become ridiculous. And the reason for them is a mystery to most spectators.

Finally, a player who commits a foul should be binned for 30 or 40 minutes. This should raise playing standards overnight.

I think these suggested changes would go a long way to making rugby a more open, and exciting, handling and passing game. What rugby once was, and what spectators want to see.

Patrick Glass

St Leonards-on-Sea, E Sussex, UK

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