Bayfield goes ELV-bashing

Former England and British Lions lock Martin Bayfield has slammed the new experimental law variations currently being trialled in the northern hemisphere.

Speaking at the inaugural Rugby Expo in London, Bayfield labelled many of the new rules as “pointless” and insisted changes to the game shouldn’t be made just for the sake of it.

“There are some ELV’s where I just wonder what the rationale was,” admitted the winner of 31 England caps. “You’ve got to look at the game and say, ‘It’s okay, it doesn’t need changing.’

“Did anything in the line-out need to be changed? My answer would be no. And we have to look at the rule allowing the pulling down of the maul. The scrum and the maul is the colour of rugby – it is the very essence of the game. So don’t destroy it.”

While Bayfield does not believe teams should be allowed to put any number of players they wish into the line-out or pull down a rolling maul, he is content to accept that some of the trialled laws make sense.

“I haven’t got a problem with being able to pass back into your 22,” he stressed. “And I am fine with the quick throw-in and the assistant referees helping the match officials see everything, especially given the speed and pace of the game. Those are absolutely sensible and fine as the sport moves further into professionalism. Those kind of moves are to be expected.”

Bayfield may have made his outspoken comments against some of the key ELV’s but he believes he is not alone in being against the trialled changes to the game.

“Why are they trying to de-power the scrum and the driving maul,” said the 6-foot-10 former Northampton Saints forward. “People in Leicester must have been throwing themselves on open fires when they heard about the ELV’s and the fact they were doing away with the driving maul because the Tigers have lived off that for years.

“But I don’t think the driving maul should disappear. If you’re not very good at it, get better at it. Teams will still find a way to do the driving maul so why confuse the issue.”

Bayfield, who played for the Lions during the 1993 tour of New Zealand, believes more attention should be paid to cleaning up the breakdown and the put-in at scrums.

“The IRB should be concentrating on their protocols that look at cleaning up the contact area and getting the ball thrown into the scrum in a straight line,” he insisted.

“Instead of bringing in these wholesale changes to the laws, more effort should be made to make sure the rules we already have in place are properly carried out, especially at the breakdown.

“If you look at Australia and how they have become much stronger in the scrum, that is not down to the introduction of new laws – that is because the ARU decided to hire a full-time scrum coach. It’s not always down to the laws of the game – sometimes it’s about having a bit of common sense.”