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Rugby needs to start playing it straight again

I watched Edinburgh's rugby team lose to Ulster last Saturday with a mixture of frustration and disappointment.

There is no doubt in my mind that the better team lost.

Ulster won by the shortcomings of an inadequate referee and the boot of a professional South African kicker.

I played rugby for more than 20 years. I never reached the heights, although I did play the odd representative game for Royal Navy, London Scottish and Stade Francais, when I was in Paris studying languages.

In my youth, it was considered essential the ball was put straight into the scrum - not at an angle that delivers it to a team whose scrum-half is making the put in.

Nowadays, the referee might just as well award a free kick; the outcome will be the same.

When will the rugby authorities rule that referees must insist on a straight put in? It is as important as a straight line-out throw.

The way the game is currently refereed, a great deal of time, energy and effort is entirely wasted in scrums, the outcome of which is a foregone conclusion.

Perhaps the scrum should be cancelled altogether and the referee should award free kicks.

JAMES D G DAVIDSON OBE

Newtonmore, Inverness-shire

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