Rassie Erasmus, the Springboks’ director of rugby, wants World Rugby to adopt two referees as part of a three-point refereeing strategy to strengthen the game.
Rugby, according to the South African, could be headed for ‘trouble’ if it does not address the murky areas of the game that irritate so many viewers and turn off potential new followers. Erasmus wants more officials involved in Test rugby, despite his highly publicized disagreement with World Rugby during the British & Irish Lions tour.
Erasmus urges for a radical rethink of how the breakdown and scrum are officiated in his Mail on Sunday column, and for the length of time kickers take to kick to be properly policed.
“The idea of two referees sounds radical and it has been tried, but it can work if done correctly. If it’s efficient and non-intrusive, it could make a massive difference around the tackle/breakdown area.
“The breakdown is so complicated for players, coaches, referees and fans alike. As a referee, you need five pairs of eyes to see what is going on at a breakdown — otherwise you are guessing,”
“For international rugby, why not form a group of world-class scrummaging experts — former players or coaches — to serve as specialist scrummaging referees?”
Scrum specialists would be allowed to prowl the sidelines and then run onto the pitch to officiate scrums when the set-piece is contested, according to the column, even if former front rowers used as scrum experts would have to be kept relatively healthy to perform the duty.
“Get them in the gym so they are on and off the pitch quickly. It would be their only job, so they would have no impact on the rest of the game.”
“There are about 20 scrums a match so you could even put a microphone on them and link them up to the TV commentary team so the viewers understand what’s going on. ”
On kicks, he also wants the shot clock’ to be more strictly regulated. Penalties and conversions must be taken within 60 seconds and 90 seconds, respectively.
“We are regularly involved in matches where the kicker goes 20 seconds over the allowance,”
“If there are six kicks at goal in a match, that could waste two minutes of ball-in-play time. Put a countdown clock on the big screens and if the time runs out then they lose the kick.”
“If we want to see more ball-in-play time then we need to make sure there is less ball-out-of-play time. If a team goes into a huddle before a lineout, stop the clock. If a guy goes down to tie his shoelaces or take a drink before a scrum, stop the clock.”
“We could easily increase the ball-in-play time by between seven and 10 minutes by enforcing the laws as they are written and again no one will have to adapt to any law changes.”
“If we had a global season, everyone could start adapting on one specified date and nobody is playing catch up.”