Andrew praises breakdown changes
March 30, 2010
Rob Andrew has praised changes to interpretations at the breakdown © Getty Images
Rob Andrew is hoping for an exciting climax to the Guinness Premiership season after action was taken to enliven the spectacle.
The RFU's elite rugby director met with Premier Rugby chiefs in February with the dearth of attacking quality in England's leading competition topping the bill. When confronted with a 38% drop in the number of tries being scored the two parties pushed referees to be stricter when officiating the breakdown and to not allow sides to illegally slow the ball.
With new breakdown interpretations having boosted the current Super 14 season, discounting the Chiefs and Lions racking up 18 tries between them in a helter-skelter game, progress appears to be being made.
"We have always said that the quality of the game on the field is a collective responsibility between referees, coaches and players," Andrew said. "In our most recent meeting Premier Rugby raised concerns about the impact the breakdown was having on the state of the game.
"Last week we had a very positive meeting with all directors of rugby and had a working session with all our referees to ensure that space is created at the breakdown and that tacklers release the tackled player and roll away immediately within the existing laws.
"That means that if teams come wanting to play they should be able to find more space to do so. And to the credit of the clubs that message seems to have reached the players and last weekend's games started to show some of that in action."
Saracens, criticised for much of the season as a dull side to watch, cut loose and scored seven tries in a rout of Newcastle and the Watford-based club have also helped to bump up the average attendance for the season with their Wembley dates. The average Premiership crowd is now 13,608, higher than the Top 14 in France, thanks largely to Saracens attracting gates of over 40,000 to Wembley and over 76,000 watching Harlequins v Wasps at Twickenham on December 27.
Premier Rugby chief Mark McCafferty also admitted that there would be further discussions over the current £4m salary cap imposed on clubs, with a decision set to be taken on May 5. French clubs are currently permitted a £7m limit.