Crossroads for rugby or a new era?

Phil Dollman, Chiefs favourite and Sidmouth Rugby Club player coach

Phil Dollman, Chiefs favourite and Sidmouth Rugby Club player coach - Credit: Archant

Rugby has a real critical crossroads ahead, with rules changing, financial challenges and health concerns right at the forefront of the game.  

My first worry are the short-term impacts, as clubs try to recoup some of the lost revenue, adjust to having full crowds back in stadiums, along with teams continually adjusting to the new interpretations and rules.  

Next, this season, the first ‘proper’ season after the initial Covid restrictions, full crowds, hopefully without any change, must be something that clubs, owners, coaches, and players are all looking forward to.  

We’ve seen so many games changed completely by one mishap or poor technique, yet throw in the mix several new rules, i.e., the 50-22 and the goal line drop out and there are a lot of variables to deal with.  

The new rules are obvious rugby league type changes. In one hand, this excites me to think that rugby can be a faster-paced, more expansive game, yet the inner tight five appreciation in me says that you lose a little on the finer arts of scrum dominance on the drop out ruling.  

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The 50-22 rule is perfect (ish), more defenders out of the front line to cover back field space only means one thing, more space to attack. Only good for the game, more running for your back three but a great addition in my slightly bias eyes. The real worry for me, is the question of what are the potential lasting impacts from the pandemic and this period of change?  

Are we going to see clubs up and down the country lose out because of the loss of finance, are we going to lose players because of the break (especially young and club players), and will the game of rugby change beyond recognition into some sort of low impact, edgeless game? I hope not.  

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My hope is that rugby can preserve what it has on the pitch, push through this period and come out as a stronger, more attractive sport and, therefore, more lucrative business.  

The days of the Chiefs consistently making a profit will be back soon, no doubt, showing the way in which rugby clubs can be run as viable and substantial businesses, with foundations of hard work at the root of all aspects. Here’s hoping for a great season of rugby filled with crowds and positive sport. 

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