The strict interpretation by referees in this season’s southern hemisphere Super 14 of the breakdown, has transformed the game.
It’s been years since I’ve seen so much attacking rugby, so much rapidly recycled second phase possession, which is the oxygen of attacking play.
No law change is involved. All referees are doing is refereeing the exact letter of the law which says that the tackler must release the tackled player, thereby allowing him to place the ball for his back-up support.
It has made a world of difference. We’ve seen quicker, faster, more attack minded teams and the ball skills have been so much superior.
The critics may moan about defence and say the pendulum has now swung back too far in favour of the attacking side.
But I disagree. If the defending side gets more bodies to the breakdown before their opponents, they can counter-ruck and go over the top of the ball (while staying on their feet) which means they can create a turnover.
It has produced a far more dynamic, attacking rugby and the sooner that the northern hemisphere follows suit, hopefully from the start of next season, the better.