Barnes: home nations set for rules advantage
The home nations will have an advantage over their southern hemisphere rivals this autumn because of their familiarity with the six law amendments recently introduced by World Rugby, according to England’s top referee, Wayne Barnes.
The changes – three at the scrum and three at the breakdown – are designed to encourage quicker ball for the attacking team and came into effect in the northern hemisphere on 1 August. They do not begin in the southern hemisphere until January but will be used this autumn when England host Argentina, Australia and Samoa, and Wales host New Zealand.
Barnes said: “Unfortunately for the southern hemisphere, but fortunately for us, come November they’ll be playing under our laws so they’ve got to get used to them. If we get a small advantage up here, I’m sure the coaches will try to use it.”
Barnes, meanwhile, does not believe there is a growing problem of dissent among players despite a number of incidents in the opening weeks of the Premiership. Barnes was in charge of Bath’s victory over Saracens on Saturday during which Schalk Brits was furious that Kahn Fotuali’i had milked a penalty by deliberately throwing the ball against him.
“I don’t there’s an abuse issue in the game at all,” said Barnes. “There’s a lot of respect. Of course players get excited during the game but that relationship is so special within our game. [Brits] was just really frustrated with what had happened. He knocked on our door and said ‘that was out of order’ at half-time.”
Karl Dickson, the former Harlequins scrum-half turned referee, believes officials are fitter than modern players. “That was my biggest surprise: I was ‘wow’ at how much fitter than players they are. It took time to get up to speed.”