Unions gather for IRB summit
December 1, 1999

Representatives from around the world will gather in Australia tomorrow for an International Rugby Board conference on the state of the game.

IRB Development Manager Lee Smith said the main purpose of the conference was to create more "space" on the field. "It seems resonable at lineout or scrum - it's once play gets under way that the problem exists."

The southern hemisphere unions are keen to make the sport more of a spectacle and the northern hemisphere nations have shown concern about other areas such as padding, pushover tries and lineouts close to the line.

The unions of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia (Sanzar) have compiled a wish-list in advance of the conference. They advocate seven changes, including three main ones: the introduction of an interchange system (whereby a non-injured player can return to the field); a video referee to rule on try-scoring incidents; and a tweaking of the complex tackle-ball rule.

Sanzar hope to be allowed to introduce the changes at an experimental stage for the coming Super 12 and Tri-Nations. Their other proposed changes include increasing the number of subs to eight and when play breaks down after advantage has been applied, the attacking captain is given the option of carrying on where play ended up, or asking the referee to go back for the original penalty.

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