PA Sport - Tue, 30 Mar 20:28:00 2010
England's elite rugby director Rob Andrew is looking forward to an exciting climax to the Premiership season after urgent action was taken to encourage more attacking rugby.
The average number of tries being scored had dropped by a staggering 38 per cent this season from nearly four per match to under three. The issue topped the agenda when the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby met on February 24 and it was agreed immediate changes were necessary to free up the tackle area.
Premier Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said "there was a determination that we couldn't let things go on as they were" and starting from the weekend just passed, England's elite referees were instructed to be stricter on teams illegally slowing the ball. Andrew is confident the interpretation changes will improve the game going forward.
"We have always said that the quality of the game on the field is a collective responsibility between referees, coaches and players," he said.
"In our most recent meeting Premier Rugby raised concerns about the impact the breakdown was having on the state of the game.
"Last week we had a very positive meeting with all directors of rugby and had a working session with all our referees to ensure that space is created at the breakdown and that tacklers release the tackled player and roll away immediately within the existing laws.
"That means that if teams come wanting to play they should be able to find more space to do so.
"And to the credit of the clubs, that message seems to have reached the players and last weekend's games started to show some of that in action."