England head coach Eddie Jones believes that the sport needs to be sped up, or risk becoming too much like American football.
The Red Rose boss has particular concerns around the scrum, an area of the game which has come under constant scrutiny over the past 20 years.
“We need higher quality rugby. The game has gradually moved along a track and hasn’t been looked at carefully enough. Now we’ve got this game that’s almost like NFL,” Jones told The Breakdown show in New Zealand.
The Australian also had an idea to get rid of scrum resets, which has been a bane on the sport.
He said: “I need to think this one through a bit… we need to go to a differential penalty where you can’t kick for goal and you’ve got to take a quick tap or kick to the line. We’ve got to try and get some more movement in the game.”
Jones also believes that the sport has focused too much on physicality and not enough on skill, and insists that the rulemakers should look at rugby league for guidance.
“It’s gone too far down the power line and we need to get some more continuity back in the game. We need to make the game faster,” he said.
“The NRL is a good example of when you make one adjustment to a law and you change the game for the better. It’s definitely become less of a wrestle in the NRL and a faster more continuous game and I think we need to make that adjustment in rugby.”
Fitness has become more and more important during the professional era and there is a discrepancy between some of the sides at the top level.
Jones doesn’t believe that it is being truly rewarded, however, and is adamant that the number of replacements has masked the deficiencies.
“I’d only have six reserves and I reckon that’d make a hell of a difference,” he said.
“Then you’d have the front-rowers, you’d have one back-rower that’d have to cover the back five, one half-back and then one back that covers the rest. That would introduce some fatigue into the game.”
These rule changes mooted by Jones could hamper some teams more than others, even the side the Australian currently coaches, but the 60-year-old is adamant that will not be the case.
“We’ve seen New Zealand go from an 80 per cent [win rate] team and under Graham Henry and Steve Hansen go to a 90 per cent team which is the most incredible record. How did they do that? Graham and Steve both benefited from coaching in Wales and brought back that consistency in the set-piece.
“When I coached Australia, we always took the opportunity to beat New Zealand by putting pressure on the lineout. Now New Zealand has got one of the best lineouts in the game so you can’t get to them through the lineout. They’ve got a strong scrum.
“Their game has evolved from being based on transition to a game that could be played at set-piece and played through transition. And there’s no doubt England and South Africa could change their games accordingly.”
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