It’s better late than never and there are still many more improvements to come, but with a series of announcements in recent days, World Rugby seem to have at least woken up to the fact that changes were needed in the laws of the game immediately to make our sport more attractive to players and spectators alike.

Yes, I know the powers-that-be have been working on the Shape of the Game plan for many months, but it all seemed to have gone a bit stale and I feared procrastination had set in, but in the language of World Rugby, that “multi-stakeholder forum” comprising representatives of every section of our sport, have now produced the first part of what I am sure will be an ongoing process of transformation.

It’s overdue, but nevertheless welcome, and I am greatly encouraged that the governing body are working through the remainder of the Shape of the Game plan which should make rugby more entertaining, a crucial necessity in these days of competition between sports for television money which usually follows the viewer figures, as well as attracting young people to play the game.

The three major changes announced last Thursday which will take effect from July 1 were the demise of the option of choosing a scrum when awarded a free-kick, the outlawing of the crocodile roll – it should never have been allowed in the first place – and the scrapping of the so-called “Dupont Law”, named after the great French scrum-half, which resulted in matches being marred by kick tennis, the Scotland v France game in the Guinness Six Nations being a case in point.

Ironically, Dupont didn’t even play in that match at Murrayfield.  

I am not going into the forensics of these law changes which are well detailed on the World Rugby website, but suffice to say they were obvious alterations to make, and will make a difference. To me the best of the three changes is the first I mentioned. Scrums were never meant to be a method for winning penalties but that’s what they have become, and frankly many matches in recent years deteriorated into boring scrum-fests.

Reducing the number of scrums and keeping the game flowing with tapped free-kicks can only be a good thing, and other proposals to speed up play, such as cutting the time allowed for setting up scrums and line-outs as well as kicks at goal, must also be introduced in the coming months after the so-called “closed law trials”. These will take place in various competitions globally before November when a report will go before the World Rugby Executive Board reviewing their effectiveness.

One specialist working group set up by World Rugby to improve “fan experience” as they call it will examine “the language and terminology that is used within the game and can be viewed as a barrier for audiences”. 

I’ve been saying this for ages, and the answer is to simplify some of the language and explain rugby’s unique terminology – in these internet days we need an online rugby equivalent of those old Janet and John books to teach people the basics. For what it’s worth, in my experience the hardest thing for beginners to understand are the laws on offside, a rule codified by English public schools, I should add. No wonder it’s impenetrable to many.

The three changes from July 1 are a good start and I will be charting the future improvements that will transform our sport while keeping its essential elements. 

Meanwhile, it’s a huge weekend for our two professional clubs and I hope I am not inflicting  a commentator’s curse on them when I say I can see them both winning. 

Edinburgh really need to win against Munster at the Hive on Friday to maintain their chances of making the play-offs, but they are up against a team who have a live chance of winning the United Rugby Championship. There will be a lot of emotion as the home fans will be saying goodbye to two of their favourites, Bill Mata and WP Nel who will be playing their last games for Edinburgh in the capital, Mata moving to Bristol Bears and Nel retiring at the end of the season. I will pay a proper tribute to them and others who are moving on from Glasgow and Edinburgh in a future column, but on Friday I’m just hoping that the emotional atmosphere will sweep Edinburgh to victory.

As for Glasgow Warriors, those two vital bonus points they secured late against Bulls should hopefully encourage them to start against Lions the way they finished in Pretoria. Keep that momentum going and a rare victory in South Africa is theirs for the taking, with all that could mean for the Championship, which they are currently leading.