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Smit & Henry question new laws ahead of TriNations



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The All Blacks and Springboks have both expressed concern at the new maul collapsing rule and its implications for safety ahead of Saturday’s Tri-Nations rugby test.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has implemented the use of the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) that were used in the Super 14 for the TriNations. They have also added two new laws.

One of the new rules relates to the line out and teams will now not have to match the number of players that the team throwing in uses. In the recent All Blacks vs England tests the player numbers in the lineout were frequently different.

The other rule will allow teams to collapse the a maul. This law is considered to be controversial and has been met with resistance, particularly as the law will apply at all levels of the global game from August 1.

Two weeks ago a 20-year-old Argentina player, Juan Cruz Migliore, reportedly suffered a broken neck and died from a collapsed maul during a Buenos Aires premier division game.

In England the RFU decided last month that they would go against the IRB and that they would not implement the law in any of its age grade rugby competitions for safety reasons.

World cup winning South African captain John Smit has suppported the RFU’s stance and questioned the wisdom of the change.

“That kind of rule makes me worry about lower echelon rugby played all around the world,” Smit told NZPA.

“We’re probably safest at the top of the pile (test rugby), in terms of playing with good players all the time.”

All Blacks coach Graham Henry also expressed concern and was asked if he was concerned about an increased chance of injury.

“Rugby needs to be concerned and I’m sure they’ll keep monitoring those things,” Henry said.

Smit joined the Springboks today after finishing the season with French club Clermont and questioned the law changes being introduced this year.

The Springboks captain led his team to World cup glory last year under the traditional rules and has witnessed first hand how the game in the Northern Hemisphere is growing. He said that the changes were potentially needless.

“I thought the rugby was pretty good beforehand. I’ve come from Europe where the old rules are going well, you can’t get a seat in any stadium,” Smit said.

“It’s something I’ll have to experience for the first time on Saturday and after I’ve had a few tests I’ll be able to tell you more but I didn’t think it was broken before.”

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