Rob Andrew has warned the International Rugby Board that spectators are being driven away by laws that are killing the game as a spectacle.
The IRB last night confirmed there would be no rule changes before the 2011 World Cup, despite widespread alarm at regulations governing the ruck and tackle areas.
The Rugby Football Union pressed for an overhaul at the IRB's council interim meeting, blaming the current interpretation for the recent injury crisis and the negative, safety-first tactics that are prevalent.
On average only 2.2 tries were scored per match this autumn, any ambition thwarted by the reality that current laws make it easier to defend than attack.
Andrew, the RFU's director of elite rugby, is worried that the lack of entertainment is already having an impact on supporters.
“I'm very concerned that attendances will start to decline unless changes are made. I think we're seeing it already,” he said.
“You just have to talk to people in the game, including some of the coaches who have said they're turning the TV off themselves when they're watching.
“There is a concern within the game. Now you're better off without the ball than with it, which isn't what rugby should strive for. The risk in keeping the ball hand is too large.”
The RFU received little support at the IRB meeting as the Tri-Nations teams, who have been worst hit by declining attendances, seized their chance to avenge the rejection of the Experimental Law Variations.