SANZAR unlikely to use extra prop ruling

The New Zealand Rugby Union and therefore SANZAR have all but ruled out the option of using an expanded reserves bench that would have allowed them to have eight players on the bench.

This week the IRB announced that if national unions wanted to have an extra front-row replacement they would be allowed to do so for domestic competitions.

The change in the rules came after the French Rugby Union pushed for the change in order to reduce the number of uncontested scrums taking place in the game when there are injuries or no further front row replacements.

There had been concerns that when coaches realised their side was being battered in the scrums, they were ordering front-rowers to fake injuries, leaving the referees with no alternative but to go to uncontested scrums.

However under the new rule if a third front-rower comes on, another player must also leave the field so that the team are penalised by only having 14 players on the field for the remainder of the game.

The French (possibly other countries) may decide to take up the offer of using the rule NZRU professional rugby manager Neil Sorensen said they were likely to stick with seven reserves for NZ competitions.

“It’s a law that’s there to be utilised if required,” Sorensen told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’re concerned about the amount of pressure put on provincial unions or franchises to have that quantity of front-rowers, especially across all competitions.

“We don’t think that the occurrences (of uncontested scrums) have been that high.

“We also think that in the professional game it’s a lot of money to have another person on the bench.

“From what we can gather talking to our referees, it’s viewed as a tactical issue offshore. Coaches are using it as a tactical ploy rather than a safety issue.

“We’re not overly warm on the idea but we’re not saying we wouldn’t.”

“Technically it could be done for 2010 but it would require a lot of consultation with our coaches and provincial unions.”

Sorensen added that New Zealand’s partners in SANZAR, Australia and South Africa were equally lukewarm on the option.

“SANZAR were represented at the working group when this came up as an aside around the ELVs in March of this year,” he said.

“There were coaches and administrators from all three SANZAR countries and none of us showed any real interest in this.

“The French raised it, it didn’t receive much support around the room at all, but obviously the French pursued it and the IRB have said to them if they want to use it domestically they can.

“It hasn’t received any airtime at all in our SANZAR calls, it’s not on any agendas at SANZAR level.”

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