Melbourne Rebels training took a turn this week with Australia’s premier match referee Angus Gardner joining the action.
Gardner’s appearance was part of a Rugby Australia initiative focused on fast tracking player’s understanding of the new law variations, with the new Super Rugby AU competition now just days away.
“It was good to come down and help guys with their training and understanding,” said Gardner.
"The new competition is starting in just under two weeks, so this was a great opportunity to have a chat about all the law variations that we’ll see for our Australian Super Rugby competition.
“It went really well and there were some good questions, so it was good to get some clarity around that definitely."
After speaking to the entire playing group about the new breakdown laws, Gardner took players through a live match simulation – an exercise he believed was beneficial for both parties.
“It was really good running through the live session with the guys later in the day, where I could talk to them on the run and help out with any questions.
“I think that live training session is really good for both players and referees, just to see it out on the field and in training, right before we get back out on the field after a really long break.”
Rebels Captain Dane Haylett-Petty said that while the group’s understanding of the new laws was still a work in progress, it was phenomenal having one of world rugby’s best referee’s down at the Stockade.
“The boys have been good, though still got a little bit of work to do obviously, but I think we’ll be there in a week’s time.
“Obviously Gus is one of the best in Australia and the world, so just getting some insight for these new laws which are going to be so crucial in the early games, just seeing how the refs will be managing the game and saying some things to us, today has definitely put us in a good position.”
For almost two hours, Rebels players were put through their paces with a series of intense exercises and match simulations.
Though fraught with the occasional friendly fire, Rebels scrum-half Ryan Louwrens believed Tuesday’s scrimmage was a great tune-up for their Round One clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
“Today was very intense – the forwards went particularly hard.
“We had a few casualties but luckily not any bad injuries.
“I think all the boys have a better understanding of what to expect now with round one coming up so quickly.
“But it was just really good to get back out there, have a big hit and really start getting ready for that first game.”