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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 22 December, 2014

Stop the clock: Lancaster backs rugby rule changes in run up to World Cup

The England coach says a more free-flowing game will boost support for the host nation in 2015.

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

ENGLAND COACH STUART Lancaster says he would back any changes that would make rugby union more entertaining.

With less than two years remaining until the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted by England, there is a push for the game’s administrators to tweak some rules to make the sport more attractive to spectators.

Lancaster agrees with that premise and believes the International Rugby Board (IRB) should test different rule variations over the next 12 months, saying he would be happy to see rules tested during the Six Nations if required.

“I want to encourage everyone involved in the making of the laws and the structure of the game to try and make it as good a spectator sport as humanly possible,” Lancaster told The Guardian.

“I’ve definitely got empathy with those suggesting we stop the clock when there are collapsed scrums – or phases of play when there is not a lot happening – so that spectators get more value for money.

“History would say it [the Six Nations] has been a pretty effective tournament without (bonus points) and it’s not really a decision for me as a national coach but I’d be reasonably open-minded about things like that.”

Bonus points have been used in every other major rugby competition for years with teams earning the extra point if they score four or more tries or lose by seven points or less. In general, Lancaster wants more attractive, free-flowing rugby to give the sport a boost in England.

“For me one of the biggest motivations for England being successful is the impact it would have on grassroots rugby,” Lancaster said.

“It’s about trying to give the country a team people can really centre around and support, which will go way beyond 2015.

“Supporters are the lifeblood of the game and the people playing it, including kids, also have to enjoy it.

“You want something to get behind and sometimes the complexity of rugby’s rules or its stop-start nature can take that away.”

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