So, the end of the rugby union season is nigh.
Looking back, I have a couple of suggestions that may improve the game. Both the suggestions would be for the elite level, and one for the English Premiership, European Competition and the PRO-14.
The first wouldn’t affect the laws of the game, but how it is implemented and I feel would make the game a better watch. A frustration for me this season, is the amount of time lost to reset scrums. While I fully understand the need for a stable platform, and fair play for the ball, I feel many teams are taking advantage of this, but running down the clock, during yellow card periods and the last quarter of the game. With all top-flight games using Television Match Officials (TMO), I feel that the timing for scrums should lie with them, rather than the referee. It would only be at scrums that the TMO would take control. If the first scrum collapses and neither team is penalised, the clock should be stopped. It should stay stopped, until a scrum has successfully taken place, with the ball is safely at the back of the scrum and playable. This would prevent teams from taking their time setting up for a scrum, and also not showing sufficient strength to keep a set and stable scrum. By following this protocol, more game time would be involved, leading to a fairer outcome of the match.
Secondly, I would like the English Premiership, European Competition and the PRO-14 to follow the same bonus point (BP) system that is used in the French Top-14, Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship. It is a slight tweak to what they are using currently. Rather than getting a BP just for scoring four tries, they need to win the game and score three more than the opposition. This would have a two-fold benefit to the game. It will allow the opposition to have a say in how many points the opposition achieve. It often happens that one side has achieved the BP soon after half time, with the opposition therefore only after a Losing BP. If the losing side could then score two tries, they would potentially prevent the winners getting the full 5. I feel this would encourage, the winning team to continue to go for tries even after the BP has initially been achieved. It would also give impetus to the losing side to prevent the full complement, thus losing the match points 4-0 or 4-1, rather than 5-0 or 5-1.
These modifications, may seem slight but I think that they would benefit the integrity of rugby and the competitions.