‘The game becomes incredibly slow’: Genia’s simple fix for rugby’s caterpillar problem – Sydney Morning Herald

Genia has found himself at the back of tens of thousands of breakdowns throughout his 15-year career and he believes the answer to the problem is staring the World Rugby Law Review Group in the face.

“Isn’t the rule that once the ball is available, the scrumhalf has five seconds to use it?” Genia said.

“The referee just has to enforce that. Use it or lose it.

“Once the ball is at the back of the ruck and they’re preparing to box kick, the ref will often say use it and he will give them another five, six, sometimes 10 seconds to use it. In that time, that’s when the teams set up the caterpillar ruck.

The caterpillar ruck has been taken to extreme lengths in Europe. This was in an Exeter-Worcester clash.

The caterpillar ruck has been taken to extreme lengths in Europe. This was in an Exeter-Worcester clash.

“That’s the way to eradicate it. Just enforce the law.

“After five seconds, I think it should just be play on. The ball’s out. (The defending team) can put pressure on the ball, you can run in and grab the ball if you like.”

While Genia is no fan of the loophole – which has infiltrated the southern hemisphere after some absurd examples of exploitation in Europe – he was also quick to point out the Wallabies are far from the worst culprits.

“We don’t have four, five, six guys setting it up. We only have two people,” Genia said.

“You look at northern hemisphere teams like Exeter or a few others – they have six people forming a ruck. They end up being 10 metres behind the defensive line. It’s not a good look and it doesn’t make the game entertaining or attractive.

Australia using the caterpillar ruck against Argentina.

Australia using the caterpillar ruck against Argentina.Credit:FoxSports

“But I genuinely don’t feel like we have a problem with it. Whitey is an exceptional box kicker and it’s the best avenue we have to put pressure on other teams.”

Genia – who is currently in Japan preparing for the upcoming Top League season with Kintetsu Liners – also believes enforcing the five second rule will encourage more ball in play time.

“With the way things are at the moment with the caterpillar ruck – the ball is at the back for 15, sometimes 20 seconds because they want to organise the box kick, elongate the ruck and get the chasers in place,” Genia said.


“If you just eradicate it and make teams use the ball in five seconds, the ball is in play for longer. It forces players to use skill and make decisions under pressure, as opposed to completely taking their time.”

World Rugby’s Law Review Group are expected to meet in the coming months and the caterpillar ruck will undoubtedly be high on the agenda.

Back in Australia, the Wallabies have sent Suliasi Vunivalu, Isi Naisarani, Jermaine Ainsley and Cadeyrn Neville home from the final two weeks of camp.

Dave Rennie’s squad moved from the Hunter Valley to Sydney after the 15-all draw with Argentina on Saturday night but the quartet did not join the group in Coogee.

The Australians have a nervous wait until Saturday’s All Blacks-Pumas clash. That result will determine whether they will need a bonus point win against Argentina at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday to lift the Tri Nations trophy.

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Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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