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Thu 24 Apr 2008 07:25 AM

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RFU to consult all levels on new laws

The Rugby Football Union has announced it will allow everyone to have a say on proposed rule changes.

The Rugby Football Union announced Wednesday it would be launching a consultation process which would allow everyone within the English game to have their say on proposed rule changes.

The International Rugby Board plans to introduce eight new Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) next season.

The RFU, many of whose senior officials are deeply opposed to the proposed changes which would affect the scrum, maul, lineout and tackles areas, intend to gather feedback ahead of the next IRB meeting.

But, as this gathering is on May 1, just how much information the RFU receives between now and then remains to be seen.

IRB chiefs insist the purpose of the ELVs is to make the game easier for players and fans to follow and not leave matches at the mercy of a referee's interpretation of the rules.

But some within the northern hemisphere game, especially in England, fear the ELVs will decrease the importance of traditional forward play and create a 'basketball' style game where scores are larger but one which diminishes union's appeal as a sport for all shapes and sizes.

Australia, whose domestic game is struggling because of competition from Australian rules and rugby league, were overpowered at the scrum by England during their quarter-final defeat at last year's World Cup.

And the suspicion remains in England that Australian officials are pushing for the new laws to be adopted worldwide because of their own domestic issues.

While the World Cup was much criticised for 'negative' rugby, with the final between eventual champions South Africa and England not yielding a single try, some pundits argue this was because of the pressure created by the tournament rather than problems with the game itself.

They point to examples of exciting contests in the Six Nations and the European Cup, as well as in domestic competitions, as proof that rugby union does not require a major alteration to its rules.

Now the RFU, which said Wednmesday that "some of the ELVs could fundamentally change the nature of the game as it is currently known" is to launch a special consultation website, www.rfusurvey.co.uk, which will carry an online questionnaire. The survey is due to go 'live' on Thursday.

"We have a number of concerns about the ELVs and the proposed process that is being followed regarding their introduction," Baron said Wednesday.

"As these Experimental Law Variations could potentially result in major changes to the Laws of the Game, the RFU believes it is important to consult those involved in the game at every level and give them an opportunity to express their views."

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