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NZRU Boss brands Six Nations ELV vote as ‘ridiculous’


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New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew says that the Six Nations’ block vote against the most controversial experimental law variation (ELV) was ‘ridiculous’.

The IRB and delegates from around the world including New Zealand and Australia met in London this week.

New Zealand and Australia returned home feeling frustrated at having failed to persuade the global game to adopt the so-called ‘sanctions’ ELV.

The experimental law, which has been on trial in the Super 14 and Tri-Nations for the last two seasons, replaces most penalties for technical offences with free-kicks.

There were also plans to allow mauls to be pulled down and for unlimited numbers in the lineout but they were also scrapped at the conference, leading to accusations from Australia that the Six Nations unions had been close-minded.

Supporters of the sanctions ELV argued that it put more emphasis on running rugby and less less reliance on a referee’s interpretation of the breakdown area however referees struggled with their own interpretations of the trial rules.

Critics claimed it was little more than a ‘cheat’s charter’, allowing defenders to wilfully kill the ball knowing they will not be gifting their opponents three points.

The Six Nations unions refused to trial the sanctions ELV in any senior competition. It was used for a six-month period in the French second-team competition.

Tew told the Independent: “‘We had the ridiculous situation where the Six Nations were en masse rejecting law variations which they had not trialled.”

“It’s fair to say that raised a few eyebrows given they were telling us why they didn’t work”

“They were basing their arguments on assumptions rather than facts.”

England had done research on the ELVs and argued against the introduction of all three ELVs – sanctions, maul and lineout and based their argument on extensive analysis of 153 matches, including Super 14 and Tri-Nations matches.

Australia were the biggest backers of the ELVs and Australia’s high performance manager David Nucifora toed the party line by claiming that the Six Nations’ stubborn defence of the rolling maul meant they had failed to understand the wider picture.

“It’s fair to say the hardcore of the Six Nations countries were the ones that really struggled to get their heads around it but there are other countries in the north that are a bit more open-minded about them,” he said.

“The frustration from our point of view was that the maul was never gone.

“Part of the charter of the game is for there to be a contest for possession and the maul in its old form, from our view, is an obvious obstruction whereas being able to pull the maul down makes it a contest.

“It doesn’t mean the maul is dead and that is what they have missed up there.

“If they let things evolve as we have down here they will see the maul is coming into the game more and more as people get their head around the skills to create a maul now and it will only become more prominent in a game as teams adjust.’

ARU chief executive John O’Neill, who faces stiff domestic competition from rugby league, Aussie Rules and football, has been particularly vocal about the need for rugby union to evolve.

The conference did however recommend 10 ELVs be adopted permanently, including a five-metre offside line behind scrums and the pass-back law, which prevents teams from gaining ground with a direct kick for touch if they have played the ball into their own 22.

The conference was not a not a decision-making forum but their recommendations are set to be proposed by the IRB’s rugby committee at a full council meeting on 13 May.

A new lawbook will come into force on 1 August which means that the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa will be played under the global ELVs, whic

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