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.

will_plant: (Default)
(i was inspired and bored at work..)and this was originally posted on the board at comeallwithin.co.uk

From the desk of our esteemed (he used to play when tries were scored differently) Rugby Correspondent - Charlie Scrumm-Downe

“The Refrigerator sends a chill down Rugby Union’s Spine.”

It appears that the rampant silly season speculation in the transfer market has borne some fruit at last.

William “The Refrigerator” Perry, outhouse-sized star of the classic Eighties Gridiron team, the Chicago Bears is poised to make a summer move to London Harlequins (XV man code) Plc. Inc. Pty. Ltd.

Speaking from his management eyrie at the top of the mile-high South Stand International Conference centre and Health Spa (and soon to be Heathrow Terminal 6) Harlequins Supremo Marc Evans said,

“All of the team at Harlequins are extremely excited that Mr Perry is joining us. We believe that this is a groundbreaking move for Rugby Union in general and will bring much needed attention to the game in London.

We saw the increase in season ticket sales at Cardiff after their signing of Jonah Lomu and thought we can do that too.

We are of course aware that “The Fridge” hasn’t played professional sport since the battle royal at Wrestlemania 2 in 1986 but the coaching team are convinced that he has something valuable to add to the Harlequins brand both on and off the field.”

Standing 6'2" (188 cm) tall and weighing as much as 370 lbs. (168 kg) in his prime, “The Fridge” is short of match fitness and currently weighs a shade more than this.

Andy Friend, first team coach at Quins said,

“We are unsure whether to utilise William’s particular strengths at centre or number eight, and think that we might ‘mix things up’ a bit to keep the opposition guessing. For example, we may choose to play him on the wing in our pre-season game against the Ospreys to ask questions of Shane William’s defensive abilities.”

Harlequin’s Director of Rugby Dean Richards noted at the press conference to announce the signing that,

“Looking for talent outside of Rugby of either code seemed like a natural progression in our forward thinking approach at Harlequins. I was originally targeting the Mongolian-born East Yokozuna, Asashoryu for tight head prop as a way of countering the threat of Sale’s Andy Sheridan but the Japan Sumo Federation blocked the move.”

Speaking from the office of his South Carolina based Construction Company Mr Perry said

“I feel that the desire to win in sport is something that you never lose. I can see myself regaining match fitness quickly with the support of the professional back room team at Quins and making a big impact on rugby union in general. Let’s face it I am only a couple of years older than Gareth Llewellyn and he’s right at the top of his game”.

Mr Perry would not be drawn on whether he intends to stay in London for the full three year residency period in order to become available for selection for England. His granny did once get a postcard from Auchtermuchty so he might yet turn out at Murrayfield.
will_plant: (Default)
Another weekend report for my exclusive readership…

Saturday turned out to be really good fun, even though we had arranged to do one thing and ended up doing another. The whole weekend turned into an extended celebration of Georgina’s 31st birthday. We managed to start festivities by the Saturday lunchtime even though it was officially on the Sunday

Last year I bought Georgina a clever locket in silver and enamel by a jeweller called Nick Hubbard. It is about an inch tall and has a hinged door on the front. This opens to reveal a hidden night sky with moon and stars on a blue enamel field, and the saying “…to the moon and back” engraved on the inner face of the door.

I found this at a jewellery exhibition run by a company called Dazzle (their show is in the Olivier foyer at the National Theatre). They showcase a variety of decorative work, though mainly jewellery, by a large number of artists and manufacturers. This covers work in both precious metals and other materials like glass and feathers etc. By virtue of being on their mailing list, I received an invitation to this year’s preview show with the added bonus of a voucher for a glass of wine. So dear reader, I ask you what would you have done in my place?

Of course we went! The ‘free’ wine was surprisingly good for this sort of event, almost quaffable! The exhibition was good fun and, I thought, more everyday wearable pieces this year than last. Some of the work was very much in the Hollywood red carpet bracket but fun nevertheless. Two things stood out for us, the first was the bracelet that Georgina decided she might quite like for her birthday and the second was a box of curiosities that bore further investigation.

The box was nearly a foot square and no more than a couple of inches deep. It had a wooden carcass and was topped with what looked like a sheet of silver. The silver had been lightly incised so that it looked like an astrological map with marking the orbits of the planets that were inlaid into the top in a variety of metals and stones. The silver lid was spilt into four sections, seemingly irregularly sided with an almost crenellated effect. Inside the box were twelve or thirteen niches containing items wrapped in shagreen (sharkskin?) and salmon leather. Meant by the artist to represent the fruit of a lifetime’s collecting, these included (from memory) an insect in amber, fossils, semi precious stones, crystal and the like. Much too classy to be considered a film prop it was, nevertheless, the sort of item that would grace the living room of a thoughtful wizard or perhaps wealthy retired adventurer. The price? Well the display ticket in the case is marked as POA. I think we overheard one of the staff say £3000 and we assumed that it was for this fine item. Overall, this was an heirloom quality piece that would need a substantial win on the lottery for me to be able to afford but I covet it anyway because of the sense of craftsmanship and thought behind it.

Afterward we wandered along the South Bank, taking in Gabriel’s Wharf where a very fitting Christmas present was bought though I won’t elaborate for obvious reasons. We then investigated the Bankside gallery near the Tate Modern, it is opposite the Founders Arms, a brick Young’s pub that looks like a cross between a gun emplacement and sewage outfall.

The current show at the gallery is in conjunction with Radio 4: the various artists describe having their favourite programmes on playing whilst working in their studios. There was a really broad range of prints, etchings etc some of them even affordable! My favourite was a print by Simon Brett, and one that I thought at first glance was of King Arthur, it was actually of Sigmund and the sword that was broken from the Saga of the Volsungs. I think because it reminded me of Boorman’s Excalibur and the scene where Arthur breaks the sword when duelling with Lancelot. Though having found out more about the Sigmund story the parallels with Narsil and Anduril are pretty clear. These engravings had been commissioned by the Folio Society for their book: Legends of the Ring: Nordic and Germanic legends.

We were then planning to go to see Whiteread’s boxes at the Tate but got sidetracked after a location report on the England v NZ rugby game from Simon who was ensconced in the Rising Sun pub in Richmond baiting Kiwi fans. We ended up in Feng Sushi at Borough Market whose improvements are impressive but there is an almost visible aura of gentrification about the place, there were two new pub/bar/restaurant things within 20 yards of Feng Sushi that weren’t there the last time I went to the Market Porter. Vegetable Tempura + Mackerel sushi + green tea = perfect feast for a crisp cold day.

The rest of the evening was passed trying to find a pub in Richmond that had any space, we actually sat outside the White Cross down by the riverside despite the chill and heavy dew, followed by a delicious trip to Gourmet Burger Kitchen. According to one newspaper report the three people who originally set up the first restaurants have sold out for £10 million, and the venture capital firm is looking to roll out 40 restaurants in the next couple of years: go before the accountants ruin it.

Sunday was another day of rugby, though more importantly it was Georgina’s birthday. We had a big Sunday lunch in the St Margaret’s Tavern, with a whole group of us: Me, George, Simon, Helen, Tracey, Emma, Chris, Jim and George’s boss Dorne and her husband Patrick showed up toward the end. We then waddled down the road just managing to get to the Stoop for the start of the Harlequins versus Cornish Pirates game.

This was a cracking clash between the two teams at the top of the ND1 table and was hard fought in the first half. After the break the Pirates made the running for the first few minutes perhaps having realised during half-time that they couldn’t defend for the entire game. They broke forward and got into our 22 which hadn’t happened much in the first half, but almost immediately the threat was cleared. Soon after the Quins were pressurising at the other end, and the Pirates replacement lock (who had only been on the pitch for about two minutes!) was sin-binned for a professional foul. This was the turning point of the game. Although the momentum in terms of possession and territory had thus far been firmly in Harlequins’ favour they had not been able to breach the Pirates determined defence. Having an extra man on the pitch allowed Quins to take the initiative and they scored two tries during the sin-binning. Soon after the bonus point for scoring four tries was achieved and the game was rounded off with another to leave the final score 50 – 6 in Quins favour.

This was a powerful performance from the Quins team and given that the tie was billed as one of the sternest games this season demonstrated that Quins are making the most of the resources that they possess. There are tough games coming up, including Bedford away, but there is now the real possibility that the team will go through the season undefeated. However the return game at Kenwyn versus the Pirates now seems like a mouth watering prospect, and there is always the possibility that we could meet them again in the Powergen Trophy perhaps even in the final at Twickenham. But first it is Samoa on Wednesday night and then Bridgwater and Albion in the cup away on Saturday, both good chances for those in the Academy and on the fringes of the first XV to stake their claim for a regular place.


will_plant: (Default)

May 2009

3 4 56789


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags