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Rugby Union heading down the long path to League esque game

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Bathman_in_London
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Post by Geordie Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:17 pm

A nice Christmas debate for you all.

Union was about scrummaging props and locks. Hookers who could hook, scrummage and throw in the lineout.
Wingers were wingers, centres were centres etc

Today the roles are merged.

Props are seemingly becoming powered down versions of themselves to become extra flankers.. Having a destructive scrum is now far from the requirement. Its just about winning the ball quick.
Locks the same...speed and mobility and handling.
Hookers cant throw or hook.

6'5 Scrum halves, 6'5 Wingers...all can play in any position.

Defence coaches are predominantly ex league players....

We criticise league for being a game for Flankers and Centres. Are we seeing our game go the same way??

Discuss.

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Post by LondonTiger Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:16 pm

It's been heading that way for quite some time. Probably before 95, but the advent of Jonah Lomu was a catalyst and the place for the smaller player has rapidly eroded. With this came the need for forwards to be multifunctional. Lifting in the lineout means you do not want your second rows to be too big, while other forwards need forearms the size of Popeye. so many front row forwards now seem to be former something elses. Most hookers were originally back rowers it seems (or centres or fly halves) while centres now are generally massive.

People will tell us that there is still a place for the little guy. They will talk about Shane Wiliams and Jason Robinson but these are really the excep[tion and who matches them in stature and performances now?

NZ's 3/4s for the RWC final averaged 6ft1 and 15st10.

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Post by rodders Thu Dec 24, 2015 9:47 am

I think as long as the set piece and breakdown are preserved as genuine contests and kept at the threat of the game then we should be ok.

I can't see that changing given the emphasis the French, South African and English, in particular, put on this side of the game.

If anything the sports are diverging in Europe with RL players getting smaller and leaner and Union players getting bigger and heavier.
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Post by lostinwales Thu Dec 24, 2015 9:50 am

I also had the impression that the rate of increase in size in the backs is reducing. It is hard for the little guys but teams full of giants don't do well either

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Post by Geordie Thu Dec 24, 2015 9:56 am

So do you think teams have come through the "big is better attitude" and are now looking for balance?

Is it possible to for players to continue to get bigger. Is it actually physically possible and continue to hit the required fitness levels etc?

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Post by marty2086 Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:04 am

LondonTiger wrote:
People will tell us that there is still a place for the little guy. They will talk about Shane Wiliams and Jason Robinson but these are really the excep[tion and who matches them in stature and performances now?

Matt Giteau, George Ford, Nicolas Sanchez, Morgan Parra?

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Post by Cumbrian Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:13 am

I don't worry that it will turn into league, league players have skill and game awareness. I worry that it will turn into steroid fuelled, skill-less mini hulks endlessly grinding away at each other in one messy breakdown free-for-all/ scrum collapse after another. I worry about the emphasis on size and strength rather than skill and creativity. I worry the game is going to become bland and homogenised.
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Post by The Great Aukster Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:18 am

The general lack of success of League players in Union highlights the difference in the codes - the breakdown skills. Union is a competition for possession, whereas League is about how possession is used. Just because every player has to be efficient at the breakdown doesn't mean that the scrum and lineout in Union aren't as important as they ever were. The idea that Props can't prop or Hookers can't hook is totally erroneous. They are better than they ever were - but so is the opposition trying to spoil possession. The difference today is that there can be no passengers who jog from set piece to set piece - they also have to tackle and win ball, so it's not surprising that players switch positions as their bodies and skills mature.

The professionalism in Union means it is getting further away from League as the players have more decisions to manage so it's not all about size, but that doesn't mean size isn't important. Sport by it's nature is about physical exercise, so most sports favour bigger, faster participants where a good big un beats a good wee un. Why should rugby be any different and why worry about it?

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Post by LondonTiger Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:19 am

marty2086 wrote:
LondonTiger wrote:
People will tell us that there is still a place for the little guy. They will talk about Shane Wiliams and Jason Robinson but these are really the excep[tion and who matches them in stature and performances now?

Matt Giteau, George Ford, Nicolas Sanchez, Morgan Parra?

3 out of four are still half backs though, and Giteau almost such.

So long as we keep the scrum as a contest, complete homogenisation can be avoided, but permitting lifting in line-outs, while making that feature of the game more aesthetically pleasing, has had a huge impact on the merging of skills and sizes.

We may never quite approach the standard "robo-cop" players as predicted by the NZ Herald last year, but the game has become too bulked up.

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Post by VinceWLB Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:21 am

What about Juan Imhof? one of the finest winger in world rugby, weighting in at only 84 kg.

Backs havent gone any bigger for a good 4-6 years now. Back rowers have got marginally bigger the last 3-4 years but not at the highest level where speed is more important.
You don't get away with scrummaging and mauling ad infinitum as it is better defended at the highest level with better technique and tactics against it.
Basically 15 years ago you had 125 kg props and 120 kg locks who could only scrummage, now they can run across the field too.

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Post by rodders Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:23 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:So do you think teams have come through the "big is better attitude" and are now looking for balance?

Is it possible to for players to continue to get bigger. Is it actually physically possible and continue to hit the required fitness levels etc?

I think if you look at the top14 and the European club game I'd say size is very much a valued commodity. Toulon could probably set up a professional wrestling organisation just using their back row panel.

The ABs have obviously moved away from trying to compete with that but their skill levels are out there on their own.

The days when a team like Leinster could pass their way to the top of Europe have passed at the minute - 23 man squads means teams can essentially replace their entire tight 5 during matches and remove the need for 80 minute forwards.
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Post by Rugby Fan Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:27 am

The laws of rugby really only suit an amateur game which is largely self-policed. Or unpoliced but with nobody really caring.

Professionalism raised the stakes, and forensic TV coverage just makes the inadequacies stand out.

Either we simplify the laws - which will take us further down the road to league - or we enforce the ones we have with more referees, and more reviews. That will inevitably mean more stoppages, which gives the big men more time to catch their breath.


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Post by Bathman_in_London Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:26 pm

I'm interested to see what the long effect of sevens will have on the game. While it won't affect the European game for a while, other countries will be funding the sevens teams over the 15s, which can only lead to more identikit players, rather than traditional props.


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Post by doctor_grey Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:16 pm

LondonTiger wrote:We may never quite approach the standard "robo-cop" players as predicted by the NZ Herald last year, but the game has become too bulked up.
I agree.  And I don't think it is good for our sport.  

One approach, of many, is that some of the laws regarding keeping the ball in play need to be enforced better (back to the breakdown discussions), not just laws which favour the attacking side.  The more the ball is in play, the more it will limit the bulking up as players will need to run more and longer.

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Post by Seagultaf Thu Dec 24, 2015 2:49 pm

At least in Leauge you have to hand over possession after 6 tackles. Union is becoming boring as (depending on the refs interpretation) teams can hold onto possession for ever.

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Post by Stone Motif Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:33 pm

Rugby Fan wrote:The laws of rugby really only suit an amateur game which is largely self-policed. Or unpoliced but with nobody really caring.

Professionalism raised the stakes, and forensic TV coverage just makes the inadequacies stand out.

Either we simplify the laws - which will take us further down the road to league - or we enforce the ones we have with more referees, and more reviews. That will inevitably mean more stoppages, which gives the big men more time to catch their breath.


Excellent post
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Post by sensisball Fri Dec 25, 2015 12:46 am

the top14 is the most brutal and draining domestic rugby competition in world rugby yet there is still a place for players like Brice Dulin (5 ft 9 in and 82 kg) and Marc Andreau (5 ft 5in and 75 kg). These guys thrive and survive alongside massive but skillful players like Sebastain Vahaamahina (6 ft 7in and 126 kg), a lock who can scrummage, jump, carry, offload and turns over ball as well as a  quality 6 or 8.
The fact that so many top level league players cannot cope with the switch to union is testament that the games remain very different, with a far more diverse range of skills and decision making required in the 15 a side game. Burgess is a case in point. His size and power were important factors in his success in league, but these werent enough to cope in the more complex world of union, where power and size are benefiticial but not crucial to success. i accept that in time Snivelling "I miss my mummy" Sam may have become a decent 6 but it was in no way guaranteed.

Happy Christmas everyone, hope you have a good day and dont eat to much crimbo pudding!

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