Jones on crusade to get rugby flowing

·4-min read

Eddie Jones wants international coaches to present a united front to World Rugby in order to speed the game up and make it more of a spectacle ahead of next year's World Cup.

Preparing for the Test decider at the SCG on Saturday night between Jones's England and the Wallabies, the master coach says the game is being over-officiated.

Jones felt lessons could be learnt from week's State of Origin rugby league clash, which was played at a furious pace.

The 80-minute Test match in Brisbane last Saturday stretched almost two hours with an incredulous 26 penalties, two yellow cards, the TMO (television match official) heavily involved, and even a drinks break.

The last New Zealand-Ireland Test also became a farcical card-fest.

"We've got to get a better balance in the game; we've gone too far, playing it like it's a tennis game and every decision has got to be right," Jones said from his team's Coogee beach headquarters.

"We've got to get back to having a rhythm and a flow in the game.

"The Origin game, there's a natural flow and rhythm in it and rugby, when it's played at its best and when we have the laws at the right level, we get that and we don't have it at the moment.

"Every time we get an a flow in the game there's a stoppage."

Jones has an ally in Rugby Australia, which faces fierce competition from rugby league and Australian Rules and needs a better product to sell to fans.

Drawing the best crowd to the Brisbane Test at Suncorp Stadium since 2013 and more than a million viewers across free-to-air and its streaming service, RA feels the sport is on the up.

But RA chairman Hamish McLennan acknowledged rugby could be sped up to improve the entertainment factor.

"It's a great philosophical debate within (rugby) circles at the moment, around the world, I personally think the game it's too elongated," McLennan told AAP.

"But player safety and welfare is of paramount importance so I understand both sides of the coin.

"Debates are happening as we speak so in the fullness of time, I hope that it will be addressed."

World Rugby has lowered the threshold for yellow and red cards, taking an ultra-cautious approach to head knocks and concussion in fear of legal ramifications.

While Jones supported that, he felt scrutiny of the game mid-match since the last World Cup in 2019 had become over the top.

He said that rugby could consider an approach like the NRL, with players put on report with the game's judicial system to further investigate, rather than increased use of the TMO.

"We go back, someone's taken out someone, well the referee couldn't see it so it can't be too bad," said Jones, who also coached the Wallabies between 2001 and 2005.

"We've got to keep the game safe, don't get me wrong, but accidental head contact and this incessant use of the TMO, we've got to cut that out."

With southern hemisphere teams travelling north for Tests later this year Jones felt it would an ideal time for national coaches, including Wallabies boss Dave Rennie, to gather and discuss their concerns.

"The referees, the coaches and the players need to get together and say this is the game we want, this is the game that people want to see and try to put together a forthright case as to the proper officiating of the game.

"I'm certainly going to be pushing for it because I've had enough.

"I don't want to see New Zealand-Ireland game like that ever again, when we don't even know how many people are supposed to be on the field.

"Imagine in the World Cup, you're playing a quarter-final, you get a red card, two yellows and you're down to 12 men, it's just ridiculous.

"The referees are being put under pressure here, we can't blame the referees.

"World Rugby are doing their best but we've just gone too far down one road but certainly before November I'm going to be agitating for something like that (a meeting)."

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