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Super 14 players back experimental laws

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An overwhelming majority of Super 14 players in three countries have backed experimental laws intended to make rugby more free-flowing, according to a survey.


The experimental law variations (ELV), trialled during this year’s Super 14 southern hemisphere provincial tournament, have been a source of controversy in the northern hemisphere rugby-playing countries.


The International Rugby Board at a recent meeting in Hong Kong reaffirmed its commitment to the global trial of the ELVs commencing on August 1 and has called for an early review of the trials in the first quarter of 2009.


The survey, released this week by the players’ associations in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, has overwhelmingly endorsed the Super 14 experience.


Almost 90 percent of the 260 respondents said the laws were easy to understand and result in more continuity, while 83 percent said they had been a positive for rugby.


And the most contentious innovation — the replacement of most penalties with a short-arm free-kick — was also resoundingly endorsed by the players, with 85 percent approving the move.


Australian players’ association boss Tony Dempsey said the International Rugby Board should take the players’ views on board.


“These results clearly demonstrate that the players prefer to play under the experimental law variations introduced this season for the Super 14 competition,” Dempsey said in a statement.


“It is important the game’s administrators listen to the views and attitudes of the players in respect of this very important issue so that we continue to ensure rugby is both an entertaining and interesting sport for both its participants and fans alike.”


Rob Nichol, chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Players Association said the survey showed the changes were a success.


“There was a lot of debate about the ELVs at the start of the Super 14 competition, however ultimately they have been embraced by the players after having been given the opportunity to prove themselves,” he said.


Piet Heymans, chief executive of the South African Rugby Players Association said the survey was a significant confirmation that the ELVs were contributing to a more entertaining game.


“We need to bring the northern hemisphere up to speed with these exciting changes,” Heymans said.


The ELVs, which are being trialed in the current Tri-Nations series between the SANZAR nations, cover the breakdown (tackle and post-tackle) area, the maul, lineout, various sanctions, kicking from inside the 22-metre line and the act of scoring in relation to the corner posts.

Sapa -AFP Super14.com

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