Having witnessed its shenanigans over many years now, I am not a great fan of World Rugby. As with all such governing bodies, the blazers at the corporate centre always try to increase their power, and the boys – and they are still mostly male – in Dublin are past masters at aggrandisement.

World Rugby has performed one signal service in recent years, however, which has been to adjust the very laws of the game to make rugby union a safer sport to play and often a better sport to watch. It is not the governing body’s fault that sleekit coaches have bent the rules to make some games virtually unwatchable, and yes, I’m thinking about the mauls that move by inches and the endless phases of human battering rams trying to force their way across the gain line only to be met by equally large human brick walls determined not to be breached. Multi-phase matches are becoming like the Siege of Troy, only no one has a wooden horse of an idea about how to break through.

I suppose such tests of physicality are fine if you like that sort of thing, but personally I would time-limit mauls even more to, say, three seconds if they don’t move, with the ref calling ‘one, two, play it’ and awarding a free kick against the team in possession if the maul doesn’t move or the ball is not passed. I’d also borrow an idea from rugby league and limit phases to, say, six before the ball has to be passed to the backs. Impractical probably, but it seems to me that rugby is now too often a game for nine or 10 men and forward power rather than the skills of backs determines the outcome of matches more than ever before.

One thing World Rugby has ensured is that apart from the numerous experiments currently going on at different age levels in various countries, the laws are the same across the globe, even if refereeing interpretations differ from country to country and even from referee to referee – that is still a problem, as last year’s World Cup showed, though the advent of professional referees has made the top refs much more consistent (and shown up the SRU’s refereeing systems as amateurish, and before anybody at Murrayfield moans, let me just point to the fact that there was not a single Scot selected for any of the match refs and assistants for the entire 2020 Six Nations, 'nuff said).

Last week, however, World Rugby made what I consider to be a major error in advocating law changes to assist the restart of rugby in those many countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The 10 optional changes are designed to restrict contact and togetherness, hence their concentration on scrums and tackles.

The problem is that World Rugby had to make them optional, so that unions did not have to introduce the changes there and then. Quite rightly the New Zealand Rugby Union said no, thank you, but then their country is almost virus-free thanks to an enlightened government superbly led by Jacinta Ahern. England’s Rugby Football Union is also set to reject World Rugby’s recommendations because the Premiership has already done so, and they tend to dictate to Twickers as to what to do. The English rugby stance is certainly not because they have any faith in the Prime Minister to deliver a virus-free country. That’s something way above Boris Johnson’s brain grade.

The SRU is understood to be considering its response, while other unions around the world think it’s too early to be changing the laws. I agree with the latter. Ordinarily I would love to see such changes as the elimination of reset scrums and choke tackles, the introduction of an orange card for high tackles to allow examination of whether it’s a red or yellow card or penalty offence, and reducing the ‘use it’ time from five seconds to three.

World Rugby spent a lot of time and money assessing what changes to make, with their declared aim being to reduce the risk of transmission among players by reducing contact in mauls, rucks, and scrums by 25 to 50 per cent.

In scrums in particular, the changes would see a goal-line drop-out when an attacking player is held up over the try-line rather than a five-metre scrum as at present, and there would be no scrum option from a penalty or a free-kick, while hookers must use what’s called a “brake foot” to aid scrum stability, with the sanction for not doing so being a free-kick.

Not bad ideas, but the point is that rugby is a contact sport and it’s all too premature. We need the world’s rugby-playing countries to be free of the pandemic’s worst effects before we can even consider playing the game again. Even with reduced contact under these laws, a player could still get infected – cue a rush to the courts for compensation by any professional or amateur player who falls ill.

Better still to wait and keep the laws uniform.