THE RUGBY GAME.
CONSTITUTION QUESTION. ®*_ oi ~ tbo most important conferences held m tho Dominion in connection with Rugby football took place on Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce room, Wellington. The conference consisted of delegates to the Council of the New Zealand Rugby Union and was convened tor the purpose of considering proposed amendments to rules with the object of making the game more attractive. it. _J *"""' F * **"*• Caill pb c 'l» president of ■a a° W Zea]inid Rugby Union, who presided, said the proposals would have a very great effect indeed, if carried, ,upon tho conduct of Rugby football in New Zealand. If they were carried it meant the possibility of breaking away from the government of the International Board. He was not arguing one way or the other, but he wished to put the question to them whether the time had arrived when they should go "on their own," or whether they should continue to play under the rules of the International Board, which controlled Rugby football in all parts of the world. After the alterations given last night had been made, the meeting proceeded to consider motions put forward by the Otago Union. The first was: — '-That the constitution of this union be amended as follows:—It shall affiliate with the English Rugby Football Union and shall adopt the Laws of Football and the rules as to professionalism as from time to time fixed by that body always to such modification as •this union may introduce." Mr. Harris said the original intention of the meeting of delegates in October was that the alterations, if adopted, should come into force this year. £ince then it had been decided by the New Zealand Union that if this were to be done it would practically mean secession from the English Union. Tho motion was with the object of avoiding this. Mr. R. H. Froude seconded the motion on behalf of the Auckland Union. Mr. G. H. Dixon thought such a stop was inadvisable. II it were carried they were cutting themselves adrift from the football world and the control of the International Board. It would bo the beginning o£ a new game in the colony, which was not desirable. The present rules were good enough to provide good and interesting games. He saw no urgent necessity to alter them. If the game had deteriorated, it was not duo to the rules, 'but to the manner in which the game was played and the rules interpreted. Club football years ago was more interesting to watch' than at present, yet the rules then were Lhe same as now. If ho thought the alteration would be beneficial he would agree to it, but as he did not, he must oppose it. Mr. Wylic _aid delegates did not understand at the last meeting that the passing of tho rules would mean isolation. They might agree that alteration wae necessary, but he thought there was ample provision in the rules whereby they could suggest alterations to the English Union. He did not think there waa any great urgency, and counselled waiting until Australia and other places had considered the proposed alterations. These countries might have further alterations to make which would greatly improve tbe game. 11 Australia backed up New Zealand, then the English Union would have to take 6ome action. If the proposal was adopted it would mean an alteration in the constitution, doing away with the light of appeal to the English Rugby Union, and other matters. They should, however, haii—nor away until they got a change. Mr. Meredith protested against isolation. This meant the losing of international and inter-colonial football, which would alienate public support. They had the support of the people, and they had a strong finance, but with the losing of tha big football thpj- would also lose their main public support. The standard of play would deteriorate, we would grow insular, and there would be no stability, no fixed rules. There would be other bands of malcontents, who would want the rules altered alI most every year. Another thing was that their connection with tho English Union provided their strongest sheetanchor against professionalism. So long as they did not secede there could be no professionalism. There was no guarantee, if they did secede, thnt all the clubs at present playing football would go with them. Many clubs would still stick to Rugby, with the consequence that they would have two codes, which would kill both games. He hoped the sanity of the meeting would result in tho motion being thrown out. Mr. W. Coffey said the time was ripe when some alteration should be made in the laws of the game if they were to improve the local standard. If they did sever from England he did not thinany calamity would happen. U New Zealand, Australia, and _outh Africa were wedded into a compact body, they could make rules which ehould be for tho betterment of the game. It seemed to him that the bogey of severance was the one thing that was urged against any alteration. He thought that the deterioration of club football was largelydue to the fact that there were too many international, intercolonial, and representative matohes. They should wipe the bogey of severance away. Endeavours had been made to get the English Union to make alterations, but they could hammer away until tlie millennium, and they would never get any further than they had in the past. 'Now Zealand could stand on hpr own bottom, and she should take the initiative. Mr G. Lusk thought the deterioration was due to the decrepit crowd of people who were now playing the game and if they bad to alter the rules to meet the desires of these players it was time they turned the game up altogether. He thought if New Zealand decided to stand on her own bottom she would d/ift back to the period when she would have to get someone to come and teach her again. ■Mr CargiU (Taranald) said they must recognise that there must be some fountain head of control. Was there any reliable authority for saying that Now Zoala-sd, Australia and .South Africa could be merged into one body? He thought not. The point was: Was New South Wales prepared to adopt the rules passed by New Zealand? It was very probable she would not and, moreover, she might desire alterations which might not be suitable to New Zealand. If New Zealand seceded other countries might do the same a_d the whole of the inter-national and intercolonial football would bo swept away. Mr Coffey: The proposed conference would sweep away the difficulties. Mr Cargill: Yes, it would, but if the motion is passed there would be no conference. He was in favour of the holding of such a conference. If the motion were carried it would do a lot of harm to Rugby in New Zealand and throughout the whole of the world. Mr Galbraith said he was of opinion, basod on a high legal authority, that unless the decision to alter the constitution was unanimous •way jimon oliiect-
ing could go to the Suprome Court and restrain, by injunction, any other unions using the present title of the New Zealand Rugby Union as at present constituted. It was very likely that a conference -would be held at which delegates from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, British Columbia, and other places would be asked to attend. They might be able to sweep away all the difficulties and it would be far wiser to await the holding of such a conference before deciding upon anything hurriedly. The mover having replied, the motion was put and lost by 35' votes to 17. Mr Harris then proposed, on behalf of Otago Union: "That a copy of the amendments in the Laws of the Game as approved be transmitted to the English Union, with a request that the English Union will sanction the modification in the laws in the manner that is contemplated by this union." Mr Coffey pointed out that the English Union might object to this on the ground that Australia and Africa had not been consulted. They were asking that certain alterations be made in the rules in New Zealand. The motion was carried and it was decided to forward copies of the proposed rules to Australia . and South Africa Unions. It was decided that the expenses of one delegate of each union outside r V*ilell'in<rton attending the conference be paid by the New Zealand Kugby Union. A recommendation to the Management Committee was passed instructing it to bring up a report at the annual meeting as to what it considers reasonable travelling expenses for delegates attending conferences of unions. Another recommendation waß passed that in the event of no word being received from New* Pouth Wales, the Australian unions be communicated with with a view of holding a conference to consider proposed alterations to the rules.
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