Our former elite ref considers what World Rugby’s time-saving law tweaks could achieve

Secret Ref: ‘Shot clock’ not the answer

With news today that World Rugby are tweaking application of laws to speed up the game, we can expect to see timers on big screens for scrums, lineouts, and shots at goal.

In many quarters it has been heralded as a phenomenal move for the good of the game. But our own Secret Ref sees one potential unintended consequence at least. And, he ponders, isn’t this kind of thing already right there in the game’s laws…?

Secret ref on the ‘shot clock’

“Recent fixtures have been compelling. Yet as if draws, upsets and coach controversy wasn’t enough, there’s now a countdown ‘shot clock’ timer being introduced for scrums, lineouts and kicks at goal. The premise is simple: make the game quicker and more exciting.

“This might sound reasonable. After all, who wants to see a sequence of reset scrums or drawn-out kicks at goal? But the reality is a lot more complicated. Take scrums. They are already hard enough to referee. Introducing a clock just puts one person under pressure – the referee. I can’t imagine why it would make either team scrummage quicker. Just to please the crowd? All that would follow would be a stream of free-kicks because refs would feel duty-bound to get the game moving quickly again. The scrum clock will only encourage a rushed, incomplete or unsafe scrum and not the wrestle for possession it’s supposed to be.

“There is already plenty of provision in law for the ref to penalise players who are slow at kicking for goal or wasting time. I appreciate kickers have a routine but pro players have all week, every week, to get their routine down to 60 seconds or fewer. If they don’t it’s a pen.

“Yet again, this seems to be a ‘band aid’ over an ailment that already has a cure – the existing laws. Referees need to enforce them, and players and coaches shouldn’t complain when the referees do enforce them!”

Do you agree with the Secret Ref? Let us know via rugbyworldletters@futurenet.com or on our social media channels.

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