• Ten ways to improve international rugby, according to Telegraph readers
    The Telegraph

    Ten ways to improve international rugby, according to Telegraph readers

    Rugby union has been in the docks recently over a perceived lack of entertainment: too much kicking, not enough creativity, and not enough speed. After our team of experts spoke out on Monday about what they would tweak or change to make the game more exciting, we have picked out the ten best suggestions from our readership. While banning caterpillar rucks, reducing the amount of replacements, and sorting out scrums were all common themes, there are some interesting ideas included in the ten proposals below. Think we have missed something? Let us know in the comments below. Reduce place-kicking time limit Cut the time taken by the place kickers especially with regard to penalties. Penalties must be kicked within 30 seconds of the decision to kick. Conversions similarly. This will reduce the ridiculous time-wasting that goes on around kick time. Chris Moore After 45 seconds of a penalty being awarded... it's game on The moment a penalty (or try) is awarded, the team taking the penalty has 45 seconds to decide what to do and do it. After 45 seconds the defending team can advance and attack the ball and play resumes. I believe basketball has a time limit for possession during which a shot at the hoop must be made otherwise possession is turned over. Peter Fowler Increase the pitch size I know it would be practically difficult. But what are the thoughts on a bigger pitch versus reducing the number of players to 13 or 14? James Buchanan Limit size of coaching staff Restrict the number of coaches to two - head coach and attack coach. If players don't know how to tackle, kick penalties/conversions, scrummage and call lineouts after playing the game for ten years then they shouldn't be professional rugby players. D Husband Bring back rucking Start by reintroducing rucking to speed the game up, thereby rendering jackallers superfluous. J Stubley

  • RFU to announce return of adapted 15-a-side rugby in the grassroots
    The Telegraph

    RFU to announce return of adapted 15-a-side rugby in the grassroots

    After a nine-month wait, the Rugby Football Union will on Tuesday announce the return of an adapted 15-a-side rugby in the grass-roots game. But it will come at a price for traditionalists with a temporary end to the scrum, which will be replaced by a free-kick, and maul, which will not be allowed to form. This will undoubtedly anger a sizeable section of the grass-roots game who view the set piece as sacrosanct and Steve Grainger, the RFU’s rugby development director, has admitted that it will be a challenge to retain front-rowers in the new form of the game. Tackling and rucks, however, will be permitted. As Telegraph Sport reported last month, the adaptations were agreed after lengthy negotiations with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Public Health England. This will apply to all rugby union matches in England below Championship level and the Premier XVs in the women’s game. Clubs will be permitted to start full 15-a-side contact training from Wednesday with local friendly fixtures allowed to commence from December 18. That will mark the end of a nine-month hiatus since rugby union was last played in England outside of the elite level. While nearly every other major team sport had been given the green light to resume, the close contact nature of rugby union, particularly in the set piece, proved a significant obstacle for the RFU in their discussions with health authorities. As Grainger told the Telegraph, the choice was effectively an adapted game or no game at all, but he understands the anger that will be felt by the lack of scrummaging and mauling. “We know that the impact of not having a front row is that we don’t have a game,” Grainger said. “This is not a conspiracy to kill the set piece. It really is the opposite. We are not giving up on it. We will keep pushing as hard as we can but at the end of the day we need Government approval and we have to find a position they are comfortable with.”

  • Football urged to introduce neutral doctors and warned over 'dangerous' concussion protocol
    The Telegraph

    Football urged to introduce neutral doctors and warned over 'dangerous' concussion protocol

    Football has been urged to introduce neutral doctors as part of an immediate and radical overhaul of its “dangerous” head injury protocol. While rugby union has temporary replacements which allow at least a 10-minute off-field assessment overseen by an independent medic, decisions in football rest with a club doctor who must make a quick on-field call over whether a player is permanently removed. These protocols were thrust back into the spotlight on Sunday following the sickening clash of heads between Arsenal’s David Luiz and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez. Luiz was bandaged up and allowed to continue for a further 40 minutes before being substituted at half-time due to the flow of blood from a gash on his forehand. Jimenez was immediately taken to hospital where he had surgery on a fractured skull. Arsenal are adamant that they followed all existing protocols in allowing Luiz to continue - and later drive himself home - and have stressed that he has not as yet shown any symptoms of concussion. World players’ union FIFPro, and brain injury charity Headway, however, are calling on football’s governing bodies to bring in temporary concussion substitutes, as well as neutral doctors, rather than plough on with proposed trials in 2021 for an additional permanent substitute. According to FIFPro, the involvement with club medics of an independent doctor during a 10-minute diagnosis window would reduce the pressure and “help ensure decisions are not influenced by sporting interests”. As is the case now in international rugby union, as well as the Premiership, Headway also wants final decisions over whether a player should continue to rest with an independent doctor. Telegraph Sport launched its ‘Tackle Football’s Dementia Scandal’ campaign in 2016 and, as well as calling for the research which proved football’s link to dementia, has consistently advocated temporary concussion substitutes. Current and former players were also lining up on Tuesday to call for change. "When there is a blow to the head there should be a substitution, whether the player can continue or not - you could be feeling OK but after you could feel the consequences," said Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson.