Habana doesn’t like new laws


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South Africa’s Rugby World Cup star Bryan Habana has criticised the new rules that are being trialled in the Super 14 competition, saying they are turning the game into rugby league.

Habana has played three games under the new rules, one of which was his first competitive game against the Stormers on the weekend where he was taken off at half time after picking up a shoulder injury.

Despite his somewhat limited experience Habana is hoping that the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) remain experimental.

“It’s got a lot more of a rugby league feel on it,” Habana told AAP reporters at the Laureus World Sports Awards, where the World Cup-winning Springboks were nominated for Team of the Year.

“There’s no stop-start, the essence of what rugby is, anymore.”

Rule-makers are hoping that the ELVs will speed up the game and increase the amount of time the ball stays in play by cutting down on the long periods in which the ball is at the bottom of a ruck, secured in a maul or out of action while scrums are set and reset.

There are fewer interruptions in the game given that fewer penalties are awarded and free kicks are awarded instead. Play is often re-started immediately by the non-offending team taking a tap kick and returning the ball to play.

“If guys wanted to play rugby league, they’d go out and play rugby league,” Habana said.

“The essence of what rugby is about is something that I don’t think any player or any supporter wants to see lost.

“There’s something special about rugby … your forwards pride themselves on the scrum and the line-out and your backs pride themselves on that contest against the opposition.

“The backs are running against the forwards now and the forwards are running against the backs, so it’s a little bit of a mix-up at the moment.”

Habana also commented on the situation later this year that will see the Northern Hemisphere teams touring the Southern Hemisphere where the matches will be played under the old rules so Southern Hemisphere teams will be forced to change the rules that they will play under from week to week.

“I don’t really understand because the southern hemisphere teams are playing with it in the Super 14, then come the June Tests, we revert back to the old laws, then come the Tri-Nations, we revert back to the new laws again,” he said.

“As players, we just want to go out there and play this wonderful game we call rugby and hopefully they won’t change what the essence of rugby is all about.”




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