Mar. 26th, 2009

will_plant: (Default)
in response to David De Beers post here:

also posted there as a comment.

I preface this by saying I do not having access to satellite TV and therefore have not seen any Super 14, I am basing this on the Guinness Premiership and Six Nations coverage.

 ELVs: I may be a northern hemisphere fan but I am not a knee-jerk reactionary against the ELVs, some have been good, some have not worked, and some have had unintended consequences. Progress is good but needs to be carefully balanced against changing the character of the game fundamentally.

 But more importantly the changes to the game this season have come about not as much from the ELVs but because of the IRBs directives on policing the breakdown - like a lot of these rules they were designed to take minimise the impact of the referee on the game and make it flow but they have had the opposite effect.

 Nothing is going to remove the pointless up-and-undering from fullbacks and wingers, but the new rules do keep the ball in play longer. Mostly?

 The kicking duels are, not actually pointless, they are down to the fact that attacking is considered too dangerous. Breakdowns policed on the whim of the referee mean that the risk averse option is to kick rather than run with the ball - e.g being caught in possession and only allowing a microsecond for a ruck to form before blowing for the attacker holding on - for this reason something needs to be changed as there is a disincentive to play the game / go forward with the ball in hand.

 Ball in play statistics are almost meaningless especially if you are counting every kick as ball in play. I am just glad we have not trialled the short-arm penalties here in the Guinness Premiership - if even the Australians [yes the Australians  ;) ] are conceding it is effectively a cheat's charter - a free kick being a scant 'penalty' for an infringement in defence.


Scrum - a well-meaning emphasis on safety led to introduction of crouch - touch - pause - engage but what conversely this has done is to amplify the importance of the hit. In my opinion this means that the scrum is more likely to go down if the advantage in the hit has not gone your way.

 Admittedly, the scrum is difficult to referee and few referees have played in the front row and do not understand what is going on and which side is trying to do what to gain an advantage. But resets and essentially random penalties meaning that there isn't any scrummaging actually happening.

 They negate the rolling maul which is simply the most horrid — and dull — thing to ever happen to rugby. I don’t care about how effective it is, it’s bloody dull to watch.

1. about 15 seconds in; the problem with this under the old rules is that opponents are not allowed to collapse the maul, they can only push back and it’s simple fact that all the momentum is with the side that has the ball. Near impossible to defend effectively

 Maul - I differ here and this is of course a matter of personal taste - i liked the old maul, power, technique and skill were required to get it to actually work. Properly deployed a rampaging maul with proper forward momentum is a good spectacle to watch.

 I believe that application of the pre-existing laws to the maul would have sufficed 1) use it or lose it - you have a time limit - lack of forward momentum means the ball must be spun wide or you lose possession and 2) truck and trailer to ensure it is properly formed, i.e. you can't hang the ball of the off the back.

 The video example you posted of the Scotland maul actually illustrates my point. You stated that it is almost impossible to defend - but why did the Scottish maul work? IMHO because the French refused to commit defenders and had poor technique / wrong body positions and were trying to stop it as individuals and not as unit.

 If you force the defenders to commit men to defend a maul, this means two things, firstly that there is more space out wide as there are fewer defenders (fewer backrowers clogging up the midfield) and likely more tries, and secondly mauling tires out the forwards so that there are spaces later in the game (this is the same for the scrum - too many resets at the moment means not enough energy exerted in proper scrummaging) Having props still running around on the 79 minute mark is unnatural even given professional levels of fitness ;)

 Also you could collapse a maul under the previous rules if you were the original tackler and had not yet been joined by your teammates - Chabal got mistakenly penalised for doing this a couple of years ago.

  Obviously you can still use the maul under the ELVs but have to deploy it carefully - but the defenders do not have to commit too many to defend it, therefore there is less space.

 Your proposed 2 minute rule - in the northern hemisphere the "running the clock down" tactic is usually based on the maintenance of possession at ruck after ruck and then boot the ball into touch when you've got to 80:00. But this often happens just after you've scored to go ahead or to extend a slim lead - so you have to ensure that you reclaim the restart kick.

 This was the basis of the Henson vs Jones argument in the Wales v Italy game a couple of weeks ago - Henson wanted the ball put into touch to end the game but Ryan Jones opted for the penalty kick at the posts meaning that there would be a restart and Italy would have a chance to reclaim the ball from the restart and potentially keep the ball alive long enough to score.

 I think a lot of your objections about timewasting / re-set scrums could be handled by application of existing laws.

 You note that scrum is not a fair fight for possession when compared with the lineout, therefore your preference for lineouts in the last 2 minutes.

 But I would say the scrum is primarily not a fair contest for possession because EVERY scrum is fed: the ball is not put in straight, unlike the computerised 'ideal' video you linked to.

 If you went to a zero-tolerance approach on crooked feeds it would make the potential of strikes against the head much higher. And would probably be an incentive for defenders to actually scrummage rather than just disrupt. Good point about wanting to deal with timewasting, though this does happen in lineouts too. Perhaps in this scrum situation you could start the game clock when the ball is actually put in? Although this is probably too hard to implement.


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May 2009

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