This temporary rule-change – where no players, even those on the same side, are allowed to approach closer than 2 metres to any other player – has subtly changed the character of the the game, with a modest reduction in the number of injuries and a huge increase in scores. With whoever receives the ball after each kick-off inevitably scoring an immediate try, the action is continuous and energetic albeit slightly predictable and repetitive.
Line-outs have become boring but fortunately rare, now extending most of the way across the pitch, with players only able to make feeble little unassisted leaps into the air. Scrums are even more rare, with off-side being about the only foul which a players can now commit. These, too, spread almost half-way across the pitch and with the ref now calling ‘Crouch!’, ‘Glare’, ‘Snarl!’ they resemble a haka more than anything else.
If, after the scrum-half has fed the ball into the scrum, it rolls to a halt out of reach of any of the players, by gentleman’s agreement the second-closest player moves away just far enough to enable the player closest to the ball to approach and gather it.
Injuries now tend to be different in nature, with several players suffering from concussion due to ceaseless banging their heads on the goalposts in frustration, many needing counselling for clinical depression and some actually dropping dead, literally bored to death.
And Italy, due to not being allowed to turn up for any of their matches, have had their most successful 6-nations season ever .