Barnes: home na­tions set for rules ad­van­tage

The Guardian - Sport - - Rugby Union - Ger­ard Meagher

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.”

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