New breakdown and tackle laws will be trialed in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup this season.
Next week New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup will kick off, a competition that sees provincial sides battle it out for the Ranfurly Shield, or the Log o’ Wood as it’s colloquially known.
Although the competition usually throws up some brilliant running rugby, this season fans across the world will be watching with added interest, as the Mitre 10 Cup acts as a testing ground for World Rugby’s latest law trial.
Despite the fact that New Zealand’s provincial sides voted to refrain from implementing the alternative scoring system which saw six points awarded for a try, the Mitre 10 Cup will play host to variations of the breakdown and tackle laws.
While most of the new laws are only slight alterations, the most controversial adaptations will allow players enter the ruck from any angle, as long as they do so from their side of the midpoint of the breakdown.
Under the proposed interpretation, a ruck will be formed after a player from the attacking team supports the player on the ground. Once the attacking player is in position, neither side will be able to use their hands in the ruck, whether they are on their feet or not.
Although this change should foster attacking rugby, it negates the influence of opensides like Richie McCaw and David Pocock, who made their names either turning over of slowing down possession at ruck time.
In effect, if such a law is ultimately introduced, it will bring rugby union far closer to league than ever before.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena