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Sir John Kirwan calls for World Rugby to ‘change rules’ as current laws ‘don’t help All Blacks DNA’



Sir John Kirwan calls for World Rugby to ‘change rules’ as current laws ‘don’t help All Blacks DNA’

Ex-New Zealand international Sir John Kirwan has effectively stated that World Rugby should change its laws so it suits the All Blacks’ natural style.

New Zealand have gone from the game’s dominant force, winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and 2015, to dropping behind South Africa and Ireland in the rankings.

The Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019 and 2023, with their scrum, lineout and maul key to those successes.

Although the All Blacks reached the final last year, succumbing by just one point in the showpiece event, they endured a difficult period under Ian Foster between 2020 and 2022.

They suffered historic home defeats to Argentina and Ireland, and went on a terrible run of form which almost saw Foster sacked.

Change of coaches

Now under the guidance of Scott Robertson, they almost went down to England in his opening game, only for the hosts to edge to a 16-15 triumph in Dunedin.

Part of that, Kirwan believes, is down to the laws. World Rugby have sought to speed up the game, bringing in some amendments from July 1, but the ex-wing has suggested that it is not enough.

“We talk about DNA. When we talk about English DNA – they brought it on Saturday – it’s hard to stop,” he said on The Breakdown.

“When we talk about South African DNA and we talk about them expanding on their DNA… what we need to understand is that our DNA needs to be innovative and moving forward as well.

“We’ve always been the innovators and I think the interesting thing is that the reason why I want the rules to change is because I think the rules currently don’t help our DNA.

“We want to have a fast game, we want to be on top of the ground, we want to be able to use our skills.”

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Wilson’s view

Kirwan was joined on the panel by fellow All Blacks legend Jeff Wilson, who disagreed with the 59-year-old and highlighted South Africa’s clash with Ireland as evidence.

The Springboks are renowned for their forward power and accurate kicking game, but there has been a noticeable shift in style from Rassie Erasmus’ men in their two games since the World Cup.

“That game there was on top of the ground, that was a fast game between Ireland and South Africa. I would love the challenge of playing those teams,” Wilson said.

“That quarter-final against Ireland last year was probably one of the greatest games of rugby I’ve been at.

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“We’ve got to remember that at the Rugby World Cup final, it was raining. It was raining in the semi-final when England played South Africa. Clearly, you go back to what you know and can do well.

“I think all those things are going to add to the drama when we head back to South Africa. You get the sense that they see us as one and two in the world.”

Where the game is heading

Kirwan agreed with Wilson over the upcoming Rugby Championship and the battle between the Springboks and the All Blacks, while also delving into the future of the sport.

“When you think about what the future is, for me there’s a few things happening in our game,” he said. “You need a whole lot more ball carriers, so your front-row, not only do they need to be incredible at scrum time, they also need to carry the ball, they need to be doing the passes out of the back.

“There seems to be some innovation in our game, not just pods. I think we (All Blacks) played a little bit differently [against England]; not too much playing in our own half, playing in behind a wee bit. Looking at where they are right now, it’s going to be a pretty good Rugby Championship.”

READ MORE: Victor Matfield hits back at Sir John Kirwan’s claim that the Springboks are ‘not the future’ of rugby

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