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Are new Rugby Union rules discouraging good sportsmanship?

Are new Rugby Union rules discouraging good sportsmanship? - Absolute Rugby

Matthew Buckland |

If you're a fan of Rugby Union, you've probably been standing in a pub watching a game; Rugby World Cup match or a Six Nations Fixture for example, and no doubt you've been asked a question by a casual fan/newbie - So what is the rule here then? Why is that a penalty? Why is that not a try? 

And let's be honest, a lot of the time - you either attempt an answer or take a sip of your pint and ignore it. However, one thing that has always been very clear about Rugby Union is the mutual respect shown by the players and the officials - where good gamesmanship often takes pride of place in the game of Rugby. 

So it would seem strange that new rugby laws would almost encourage a move away from this proud part of the game. This is the opinion anyway of former England International, Austin Healy, after what he witnessed on Saturday in the Gallagher Premiership match between Leicester v Exeter. 


There is a new law in Rugby Union that states

'If the ball is held up in in-goal, there is a knock-on from an attacking player in in-goal or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal, then play restarts with a goal line drop-out anywhere along the goal line.'


To encourage variety in attacking play close to the goal line and to increase ball in play time by replacing a scrum with a kick that must be taken without delay. An opportunity for counter attack is also created.

Now, during the game between Leicester and Exeter in the first round of Gallagher Premiership fixtures for 2021/22, Exeter Lock Sean Lonsdale attempts to ground the ball for a try - but is seemingly held up by his opposition - potentially causing the unsure referee to go to the TMO. 

However, instead of the letting the ref waste his, the players and the fans time with a TMO, Lonsdale owned up to being held up by the defending Leicester side. 

It is this act of sportsmanship that Austin Healey believes will fall out of the game due to this new law, by stating, 'That’s good honesty but you won’t get players doing that anymore because if there’s a quick one [goal-line drop out] then you’ve got to sprint back to get in position. I hope they still do, and fair play for doing it, but in that scenario what you don’t want is let the opposition take a quick one.”

You can see what happened at the game below.

How do you think this impacts the game? Are you in agreement with Austin Healey? Leave in the comments your thoughts.

And on the subject on Good Sportsmanship in Rugby - what is the best bit of sportsmanship you've seen when playing a game? Again, let us know in the comments below.


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