English Clubs & Welsh regions force Unions to reject ELV i

The Rugby Unions of England and Wales have decided that three contentious experimental law variations (ELVs) will not be trialed in Europe next season after the English clubs and the Welsh regions rejected a proposal that they be adopted in the EDF Energy Cup.

The Unions of England, Wales and Ireland said at the International Rugby Board’s council meeting in May that hat the three variations would be confined to one tournament.

The Anglo-Welsh EDF Energy Cup was earmarked as the appropriate competition, but the two unions involved have told the IRB that the teams taking part will not sanction the trial.

That prompted the chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, John O’Neill, to say the game could split in two and asked what a world cup would be like if Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were not in the World cup.

Under the new rules free-kicks rather than penalties would be awarded for all offences bar three and changes to both the ruck and maul laws, making failure to use the ball result in a free-kick to the opposition.

“The reason we wanted the three variations trialed in just one professional competition was the fears we had of their impact on the community game,” said the chairman of the Rugby Football Union’s management board, Martyn Thomas in the Guardian.

The unions were happy to give them a go in the EDF, but the clubs and the regions, quite understandably, had serious reservations.

“It would have meant them playing one set of rules one week and another the next and, given the fragmented nature of the EDF, there was doubt whether the trial would have been of any value.”

John O’Neill dared the IRB to take the Unions to task over the implementation of the new laws and this week they wrote to the WRU and RFU asking them to reconsider but Thomas said: “We cannot go against the wishes of those taking part in the EDF.

“My concern after attending last week’s IRB meeting in Hong Kong is that the southern-hemisphere nations are looking for law changes to solve problems that are economic in origin and it does not seem the right way to go about it.”

Thomas’s comment about the problems being economic come as Southern Hemisphere Rugby is struggling financially.

The IRB is organising a conference on the ELVs next March to discuss whether any or all of them should be made law for the 2009-10 European season.

The SANZAR (South Africa, Australia & New Zealand) nations want the rules to implemented in full as soon as possible as the IRB say that new rules need to be implemented two years out from a world cup for them to be included in a world cup.



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