Six-point tries producing 'positive' rugby

2015-09-14 15:26
Rugby ball

London - Away from the glitz and glamour of the Rugby World Cup, an experiment that could have a major influence on the way the game is approached at all levels is being played out against the backdrop of the Welsh valleys.

The semi-professional Welsh Principality League is a guinea pig for new trials in the laws this season, including awarding six points for a try and two points for a penalty and a drop goal, that may, according to the man overseeing them, make the sport more attractive.

"We are all positive about it," said Wales Rugby Union (WRU) national match officials manager Nigel Whitehouse who sits on World Rugby's laws panel.

The aim of the new system is to test whether offering more points for tries and fewer for kicks at goal leads to a more open and attack-focused game with increased ball-in-play time.

"We continually have to look at the game to see how we can make it better for all involved. So from my perspective these are serious trials," Whitehouse told Reuters.

"All the coaches and players I have spoken to over the summer opened their arms (to the idea).

"It's great to see World Rugby, through these trials, trying to be positive and make rugby attractive as possible, not only to play in but for spectators as well," he added.

Winger Alex Webber, from champions Pontypridd, scored the first six-point try on the opening weekend of the season earlier this month.

Ponty ran in nine tries in thumping Llanelli 68-32, a game where no penalties were kicked, and they followed up this weekend with a 50-0 demolition of Bridgend.

Whitehouse said that while it was too early to see any pattern emerging, it was noticeable teams were not kicking at goal as much, preferring instead to be positive and kick for territory.

Other law changes are also being introduced in the trials, with uncontested scrums involving eight players from each team and a penalty try that will automatically be an eight-point score with no conversion to be taken.

World Rugby told Reuters the governing body was "delighted" the WRU had volunteered for the trials "which will give us a high-level of competition to evaluate the outcomes".

Whitehouse said frequent data would be sent back to World Rugby.

"It's important for us as lawmakers to try and make the game attractive for everyone involved," he said.

"Rugby is one of the greatest team sports in the world but at the end of the day it's also a business and we need people through the turnstiles to come and watch our game at all levels.

"Whether fans pay £80 for a test match or £5 to watch their local club they want to see a good game of rugby. They don't want to see dour games."

The early days of the sport were more about kicking contests. In 1871 the first Rugby Football Union (RFU) law stated that a game would be decided by the number of 'goals' scored only.

A try was worth one point from 1886 to 1891 and then in 1893 the RFU and WRU increased the value for a try from two to three points. This became globally sanctioned the following year.

The three-point try stood until 1973 when it moved to four and then in 1992 it was increased to five

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