Steven Kitshoff ready to tackle rugby's new law trials

By Wynona Louw Time of article published Jun 11, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Springbok and Stormers prop Steven Kitshoff says the concern over scrummaging and mauling in terms of spreading Covid-19 is “something that needs to be talked about” and believes these close-contact areas won’t put players at an increased risk of contracting the virus.

World Rugby last month released a set of optional (temporary) law trials related to the scrum, tackle, maul and ruck to lower the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

The 10 law trials include a free-kick to replace the resetting of a collapsed scrum, the “use it” call at a ruck to be cut from five seconds to three, and no player joining a maul after it has started.

The so-called “choke” tackle would be inhibited by calling it as a tackle instead of a maul - so the ball must be played immediately - and removing the scrum reward for the defending team.

There is also an orange card, which can be used by a referee when they are uncertain if a high tackle warrants red. This would see the offending player sent off for 15 minutes, during which the television match official will review the incident and, if it is deemed as only a penalty or a yellow card, the player will be allowed to return.

Kitshoff explained why he thinks scrummaging and mauling wouldn’t necessarily be a danger.

Stormers prop Steven Kitshoff doing rehab at Western Province High Performance Centre. Picture: Michael de Vries/Stormers

“It is something that needs to be talked about,” he said. “I think if everybody is safe and has been tested and isn’t going into the game with any symptoms, then 80 minutes of scrummaging and mauling will be fine. You will be safe until the end of the game. I don’t see issues if teams are isolated, also there are outside influences that could infect anyone before a game.”

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux on Tuesday confirmed that a domestic tournament could kick off in August or September, and Kitshoff added that it’s crucial that teams start training scrumming and mauling well in advance after spending the last few months without contact training.

“Every week you train scrumming, line-out lifting and mauling. We have been sidelined for a couple of months. If we are talking about kicking the season off in August, it is important for teams to get together and start training those things. We develop and build on those things throughout a season. It will be very important to train those things at least two weeks prior to the first game. We would probably need four weeks or so to get ready to take contact without getting injured.”


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