Jones: Two refs needed to prevent slow ‘kick-fest’ rugby

Rugby

Eddie Jones’ solution to prevent rugby from falling into a slow, attritional, kick-fest is to deploy two on-field referees to ensure teams can secure quick ball.

Jones unveiled his 34-man England squad on Monday and said his greatest concern ahead of the 2020 Six Nations is uncertainty over how referees will officiate the game. He feels referees at the World Cup didn’t allow teams to play with quick ball and believes if laws aren’t correctly implemented, rugby will become a “slow attritional game” based on power.

The England coach said there is “no discussion between the coaches and the referees”, calling it a “communication dead zone.”

“Why I’m not sure, but we’re going through that. It’s hard to know which way the game will go,” Jones said. “It’s one of my biggest concerns for the game at the moment.”

Jones is concerned about officiating around the tackle area — namely the second man not releasing in the tackle and the tackler not releasing before contesting the ball no longer being penalised.

And he fears if these laws continue to be overlooked, rugby will be set for “more kicking… more high balls”.

“I feel sorry for the referees because there is so much for them to do at the moment,” Jones added. “The possibility is that we are going to have to look at how many officials are on the field because we need the game to get quicker. The game is too slow at the moment.”

Jones’ solution is for rugby to adopt two on field referees: “One at the breakdown, one at the offside line and the assistant referees are actually assistant referees,” Jones said.

“If they are on the right-hand side then they are responsible for that defence line on the right-hand side of the ruck and the left-hand side the same. We’ve got to get quick ball. We’ve got to open the game up.

“Whether that’s going to happen in the Six Nations, I doubt that very much but it is a concern for the game. We want to be able to play a kicking game and we want to be able to play a running game. At the moment it is difficult to play a running game.”

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