By Chris Chaplin
July 23 2002
We hear that many of the laws of the beautiful game (not poofball) are designed to "make the game flow". I would argue that some of them do the precise opposite and should be reviewed.
Line Outs are no longer to be taken on the defenders try line. What has this law brought to the game (aside from making Backy have to walk further to score? There is a reduced reward for the attacking team who, having gained the advantage from a penalty and placed the ball by the corner flag, have to trudge back to receive their reduced advantage. This experiment should be abandoned.
Accidental Offside is one of the more surreal of the laws. What advantage does the transgressor gain from bumping into one of his own players? There is already laws covering crossing and obstruction so stopping the game for such a petty misdemeanour as ACCIDENTAL offside acheives nothing, other than to stop the game and provide a Rugby League type turnover for the offending team.
Releasing the Ball
Now this must be the perfect example of shooting yourself in the foot. Designed to keep the game moving this law does exactly the opposite at the very worst the offence should produce a scrum against the offending team. It also provides ample opportunity for inconsistent refereeing particularly when the "squeeze ball" is involved. It should go and the game will flow all the better for it.
Unless a player is certifiable and wants a good shoeing I suggest that most want to get away from the tackle as quickly as possible if only to regain their defensive position. Again this is a widely and inconsistently applied law. I have seen numerous occasions of a defender being penalised while two 18 stone forwards are laying on top of him (q.v Squeeze Ball)
Now for the one that will cause trouble: Knock On; ever since I was a boy #7 I could never quite see the point of this law. To my mind it's in the same catagory as Accidental Offside and just as harmless. In both cases the offender gains no advantage from the offence having, in open play, lost control of the ball.
Admittedly at the base of a ruck or in the release of the ball from a maul the offender, usually the Scrum-half, would get a second chance but in the second or two that the chance would take to glean any benefit the opposing back row would be upon him.
Just think how many stoppages accrue from Knock Ons. Imagine how the great shibboleth of fast play would be served were they to disappear. It should be consigned to the waste bin of time with leather balls, Dubbin and my ambition to be anything like a decent player.