Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Are you worried about the ELVs? The top coaches aren’t by David Clarke

There has been plenty of confusion and misinformation, plus a number of conspiracy theories about the ELVs. The world’s top coaches see the ELVs as here, an opportunity and are working how to deal with them.


Here is what the top coaches are saying at the moment.


Graham Henry after the first Tri Nations game:  “If you asked the All Blacks what they enjoy playing the most they’d rather play with the new ELVs in place. They enjoy that game. It’s more open, it’s more athletic. From coaches who have coached the game a long time, we find it less structured and I guess that creates challenges in itself. It’s a game where you have to play off the cuff a lot more and play what you see. It’s not as structured as the old laws were. The two new ones (the lineout numbers and maul being pulled down), the jury is still out, still waiting to see how sides cope with them.”


But his forwards coach is not enamoured with the new lineout law.


Steve Hansen, All Black assistant coach: “They (the International Rugby Board) have possibly made a mistake. The contest in the line-out has been flipped over to one side. The defending team has got an advantage. Currently I think they are too much in favour of the defending side and the decision to make those laws have been based around making it easier for the referee so he doesn’t have to count numbers. As we play more games we’ll get better at exploiting them, both on attack and defence.”


And here are the comments before the start of the Tri Nations tournaments.


Peter de Villiers, South Africa coach: “ELVs give us a chance to explore, to speed up the game and there will be more passing. They should bring the true nature of the sport to the fore. The one I’m a big fan of is the not passing back into your own 22. It should help the game to be more positive.”


Robbie Deans, the Australia coach: “There’s a little bit of difference in so far as the ball can be in play a little bit longer and that teams that want to can choose to take the initiative if they want to and take quick free-kicks (though not true of the 13 ELVs for the Northern Hemisphere). The game has become less and less discernible from what was there before, which is good because there is scope for teams to be attacking and positive.”


Graham Henry before the Tri Nations tournament: “The big thing about ELVs is the tackle area still and the refereeing of the tackle area. If the refereeing is accurate and the team plays well in that area and is highly skilled then that increases the spectacle of the game.”


Ian McGeechan, London Wasps and Lions coach: “It’ll be interesting to see the impact it has on, not only on players, but on coaches and how they interpret them. You need to be coaching and playing under the ELVs to make the most of them. They’re here now and that’s what we have to deal with but I liked the word ‘experimental’.”


Warren Gatland, Wales coach: “I didn’t see anything wrong with the game as long as you get a strong referee. The five-metre rule and allowing a quick throw to a lineout to go backwards are very positive. Allowing hands in the ruck is concerning (not coming in at the moment), along with players being allowed to collapse the maul, plus the change in the number of players at lineouts. These may change the nature of the game.”


Frank Hadden, Scotland coach: “It’s important they are tested comprehensively and at all levels before they are adopted. All have some merit in the sense that they are attempting to address concerns. I’ve seen them in operation in Scottish club matches and was broadly happy with what I saw.”


Syd Millar, former International Rugby Board chairman when it was decided to trial the new laws in the Super 14: “Defences are on top at the moment. We need to free the game up a bit, make it easier to play, easier to referee, easier to understand and we have to produce more options for players.”


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