The Stifling Game

15 02 2010

A guest contribution from The Loose Cannon:

Even after a couple of thrilling six nations encounters this weekend so far, one cannot help but be disappointed with the way that the game of rugby is being governed these days. There appears to be a different set of laws every week and there is certainly no consistency applied between northern and southern hemispheres. This leads to confusion with referees on an international level and matches are often decided by the luck of the draw depending on who is blowing the whistle on the day. Over some quiet beers yesterday, followed by many loud and obnoxious ones, this topic came up and was heartily debated by all involved. The general consensus was as follows:

  • Nobody knows what is going on in the front row. It is utter guesswork but referees have to make decisions and give penalties in this area. A great suggestion was the there is a “fifth referee” who is a prop and has a live connection into the refs earpiece. He can give real time advice to the ref during the game and let him know what is going on. This is the only real way to sort this out.
  • The breakdown is the real issue. As we all know, there is far too much emphasis on contesting for the ball at the breakdown. Whilst we appreciate the skill involved in a turnover, the way the game is being refereed stifles the ebb and flow and prevents good, quick running rugby. Aerial ping-pong is utterly dire to watch and occurs because with ball-in-hand behind the gain line, full-backs and wingers are terrified of being isolated and turned over.
  • We suggest a comeback for raking and a law change. Raking clears tacklers and gets them away from the ball more emphatically than anything else. If you know you are going to eat some shoe-pie then you get out of the way. Clearing ruckers should also be allowed to go off their feet when clearing out. Why not? It will enable more effective clearing and scrum-halves will get cleaner, faster ball.
  • Consistency. There is a clear difference between northern and southern hemisphere refereeing. Super 14 is a totally different proposition to the Heineken Cup and not only because of contrasting styles and attitudes. We concede that there is generally a more attacking mindset in the southern hemisphere and that the general level of ball handling and special awareness is better. However, the referees are much more lenient on rucking laws and the attacking ruckers going off their feet. Not to mention a plethora of forward passes, crooked line-outs and skew scrum put-ins going un-noticed.

Let’s get some clarity on the key areas and a focus on fast-paced, free-flowing attacking rugby.




One response

15 02 2010

Interesting thoughts Bucky. Do you not think that having a real time ref might slow down the game interminably? Good idea in theory but perhaps might take to long in practise leading to long delays whilst replay after replay is watched.

I refer you to my previous article
where I mentioned the NH vs SH refereeing standards. Completely agree with what you are saying.

Thanks for writing

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