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Has international rugby become boring?

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Pot Hale
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Post by RDW Mon 23 Nov 2020, 9:11 am

The conversation following the last few weekends of the autumn nations cup, along with the Australia v Argentina game, has been dominated by two words - defence, kicking. We're at the point when several coaches are saying they're happier without the ball, and it's led to mainly dull spectacles.

The lack of crowd wil be having a big impact, but these tactics would still be in play even with fans allowed

It goes without saying that a game doesn't need to be high scoring to be exciting - there's been plenty low scoring 6N games that were incredibly intense and exciting. Conversely there's been plenty high scoring Super Rugby games over the year which weren't actually that exciting due to the complete lack of intensity.

It does feel like we have gone too far to one direction however, with very little attacking intent on show from any team really.

Our famous alumni Glove tweeted about this - there were only 6 tried across 4 games this weekend.

https://twitter.com/glove931/status/1330797046014627846?s=19

So what so people think? Is this just a function of the lack of crowds at games, or are defences so on top now that attack has been forgotten about in lieu of kicking the crap out of the ball whenever you get it, leading to dull games?

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Post by mikey_dragon Mon 23 Nov 2020, 9:57 am

NH rugby is boring.

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Post by LondonTiger Mon 23 Nov 2020, 10:02 am

It is easier to coach and operate defence versus attack. With the current restrictions in place, reduced contact time etc it should be no surprise that most teams, north or south, are winning by getting the defensive elements right.

France played some really good rugby yesterday, but there was a rustiness to their offloading that perhaps limited the try count.

I woudl also like to point out that the skill levels in the first Twickenham match on Saturrday and the attacking intent was high, with France really unlucky to lose at the death.

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Post by demosthenes Mon 23 Nov 2020, 10:11 am

What appears to be lacking is imagination. Teams are still attacking, but its one-dimensional stuff waiting for the opposition to make mistakes. If you cant get in behind a defence by drawing someone out of position, of if the defence are slowing your ball to the extent that you cant engineer a mis-match, you need to be trying chips over / grubbers / kick-passes. Something. And not just the stand-off, the midfield backs and FB need to be creative as well.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 23 Nov 2020, 10:35 am

Kicking as a tactic can work really well as an attacking strength. Poor kicking just gives the ball back. Last 2 years or so england have mixed it well. This year and in particular the last few weeks the kicks have been too long in general and telegraphed.

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Post by Soul Requiem Mon 23 Nov 2020, 10:46 am

Does this not normally happen the year after a world cup when teams are trying to find a new identity?

A look at the six nations since the 2015 world cup shows (tries conceded by Italy in brackets)

2016- 71 (26)
2017- 66 (26)
2018- 78 (27)
2019- 84 (22)

2020- 73 (24)

Generally speaking teams start to perfect their attacking patterns leading into a world cup rather tahn out of one, the numbers aren't vastly different through the four year cycle but do suggest it to be true to an extent.

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Post by tigertattie Mon 23 Nov 2020, 11:16 am

I (not that I'm an expert) think it's down to teams now playing the percentages

Teams are not going for the high risk/high reward strategies and it's resulting in what looks to be a lot of kicking if they don’t want the ball or a lot of one out passing or pick and go forward play.

It used to be that if you were in your 22 you would look for a long kick to touch to get back into the opposition half to play there. Now there seems to be a lot of kicking the ball to try and contest a catch in field. Usually the kick is too long or not contested and the ball just gets kicked back at you (but again not into touch).

The ruck also seems to have become a bit of a lottery between penalties being awarded for tacklers not rolling away quickly enough or the ball carrying team not allowing for a fair contest of the ball. The ruck aspect is played so quickly and with so many laws, the ref simply cant see everything and its the first offence that catches his eye that gets the penalty. Players are sealing off (not supporting their own bodyweight if they were asked to take their hands off the ground) or the jacking team are doing that scooping motion where they too couldn’t hold their body weight up if they lifted their arms up.

Mostly though I think players are being over coached now. They aren’t playing what is in front of them and they are sticking to the present plan over and over again.
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Post by LondonTiger Mon 23 Nov 2020, 11:33 am

Of course one of the cases where the players actually played what was in front of them led to Jonny May's second try.


(though of course that also include two kicks)

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Post by Old Man Mon 23 Nov 2020, 11:49 am

From what I read Line outs are now the platform most tries are scored from. Which would suggest why teams might want to avoid line outs.

Defensive strategies, aggression in defense and fitness levels are at an all time high.

Tactical kicking if executed well is a huge part of the game.

And of course counter attack off opposition mistakes.

The refereeing of the breakdown if done as the law intended should bring quicker ruck ball and give defenses less time to align.

Offload becomes more vital in contact to avoid slow ruck ball.

The game is just fine the way it is.

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Post by bsando Mon 23 Nov 2020, 12:15 pm

International rugby should be about witnessing the best players playing the best rugby, plain and simple.

I think the most enjoyable games are when you get two teams pushing the limits of their given skillset. Looking back over the games I've watched this year my favourite ones by far came from Rugby Aotearoa. Some of those games just left me in awe by the all round skillset of some of the players and how they worked as a team.

Attacking rugby will always win me over but it needs to be clever attacking rugby not just expansive rugby with lots of offloads. Side to side rugby can very predictable and boring too. It can also get pretty dull when neither team wants to attack at all and would prefer to force a mistake from the other. Bad weather seems to force this mentality as we've seen a few times this year. Personally a game without a mixture of plays and tactics suits a lower tier of club rugby IMO. The best players can turn on the magic when required and not just adhere to a game plan.

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Post by Old Man Mon 23 Nov 2020, 12:28 pm

There has been a number of opinions that the NZ Super Rugby tournament has not prepared the All Blacks for test rugby.

Whilst a spectacle showcasing high skill levels the lack of Highly physical forwards, the physical attrition at the breakdown and aggression on defense added to referees being too “matey” with the players and lax on the breakdown laws have created a problem for the All Blacks.

They have no variety of styles.

I personally think there should be a balance in these strategies.

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Post by dummy_half Mon 23 Nov 2020, 3:36 pm

Interesting comment that more tries come from line-outs. Obviously some are attacking / driving maul tries, but others I'm sure are because there is a big gap between the back lines, so ball off the top and into midfield gives a carrier a few steps to get up to speed, making it more likely to get well over the gain line and put the defence on the back foot.

About 25 years ago, rugby league was going through a spell of being incredibly attritional. This was in part because the officials weren't pushing the defensive line back 10 yards - tended to be more like 7. The refs were encouraged to be more generous with the spacing and more ready to penalise for offside, and the result was a much more open and flowing game.

Union would be improved by at least partially following this example - get the defensive line back clearly behind the back of the breakdown, and strictly enforce offside. I reckon at present you could penalise the defensive team on at least a third of plays, with usually the third or fourth defender pushing up early. Another yard or two of space for the attack would make a big difference both for the power runners getting over the gain line and in the smarter handling players having a chance to offload.


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Post by tigertattie Mon 23 Nov 2020, 4:19 pm

dummy_half wrote:Interesting comment that more tries come from line-outs. Obviously some are attacking / driving maul tries, but others I'm sure are because there is a big gap between the back lines, so ball off the top and into midfield gives a carrier a few steps to get up to speed, making it more likely to get well over the gain line and put the defence on the back foot.

About 25 years ago, rugby league was going through a spell of being incredibly attritional. This was in part because the officials weren't pushing the defensive line back 10 yards - tended to be more like 7. The refs were encouraged to be more generous with the spacing and more ready to penalise for offside, and the result was a much more open and flowing game.

Union would be improved by at least partially following this example - get the defensive line back clearly behind the back of the breakdown, and strictly enforce offside. I reckon at present you could penalise the defensive team on at least a third of plays, with usually the third or fourth defender pushing up early. Another yard or two of space for the attack would make a big difference both for the power runners getting over the gain line and in the smarter handling players having a chance to offload.


For me this is why teams are kicking the ball so much. They can't run into space that is not there so they hoof the ball. The assistant refs need to be policing this side of the game much much more. It will lead to a period of death by penalty but then the players will adjust and will get back into the habit of not being offside.

Every team in every game is doing it. Examples below - Forgive the crudness of my examples, the BBC wouldnt loan me thier giant touch screen to show this.Has international rugby become boring? Irelan10
Has international rugby become boring? Scotla10

These are just two exmaples where you get a nice wide angle down the line. Neither one resulted in a penalty! Offending people circled in red.
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Post by LondonTiger Mon 23 Nov 2020, 4:40 pm

dummy_half wrote:
Union would be improved by at least partially following this example - get the defensive line back clearly behind the back of the breakdown, and strictly enforce offside. I reckon at present you could penalise the defensive team on at least a third of plays, with usually the third or fourth defender pushing up early. Another yard or two of space for the attack would make a big difference both for the power runners getting over the gain line and in the smarter handling players having a chance to offload.


I reckon it would be easily more than 50%. It is hard to be sure, with the current aggressive rush defences, exactly when they become offside versus the ball in play, but I would like to see them err on the side of punishing the defence, especially as teams try to make it as hard as possible to get clean ball so SHs are often digging for it.

The other thing that the Assistant Refs should monitor much more is the guys who chase the kicks being in front of the kicker. Happens pretty much all the time.

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Post by asoreleftshoulder Mon 23 Nov 2020, 9:51 pm

The new ruck interpretation is making it too advantageous for the defense. Unfortunately if we go back to the old ones then one out grinding attack is rewarded.
What's needed is to make it that when a defender gets a jackal he wins a turnover not a penalty. Yellow cards need to be given out for holding on in the tackle. The 2nd offence by any player should be a card and 3 different ones should result in a team yellow.

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Post by RDW Tue 24 Nov 2020, 1:37 am

https://www.rugbypass.com/news/boring-rugby-union-in-danger-of-stagnating/

Jiffy has his say...

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Post by Gooseberry Tue 24 Nov 2020, 8:30 am

Everyone used to moan that drop goals ruined the game, when do we ever see them now?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 24 Nov 2020, 8:32 am

Theres a fair few ex pros now pointing out how boring it is. Dawson while patting england on the back suggests it'll be the reason that england go backwards, as the players will be too bored not attacking.

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Post by Soul Requiem Tue 24 Nov 2020, 8:37 am

Enjoyment is relative, I for instance much prefer a match like Saturday than the 55-35 kind of game we had against France in 2015, the raw physicality on show is why I watch rugby. The May try was so special because it came in that kind of match, if you've got scores being run in from anywhere it devalues it for me.

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Post by Old Man Tue 24 Nov 2020, 8:45 am

Yeah a 50-30 match doesn’t have intensity, just poor defense.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 24 Nov 2020, 9:42 am

Variety is the key, and the big thing that Union has over League. They just have to keep finding ways to reward taking different options.

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Post by majesticimperialman Tue 24 Nov 2020, 11:08 am

I think Jiffy is talking about Welsh rugby only.

Afew years ago Welsh rugby was dire, they was often behind on around 50/60 minute mark,untill some one like Shane Williams would pull some thimg out of the bag and spark them in to life. And they would often end up winning the game, a game they should of lost.

Then along came Gatland/Edwards and made Wales in to a great team with the saying (on houer day we can beat any one) and under Gatland/Edwards that was true.

But now Gatland/Edwards have gone and Pivac has taken over and sorry to say Wales have gone back  to playing boring rugby. Who is there in the team/squad to give them that spark of life again?

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Post by RiscaGame Tue 24 Nov 2020, 12:07 pm

majesticimperialman wrote:I think Jiffy is talking about Welsh rugby only.

Afew years ago Welsh rugby was dire, they was often behind on around 50/60 minute mark,untill some one like Shane Williams would pull some thimg out of the bag and spark them in to life. And they would often end up winning the game, a game they should of lost.

Then along came Gatland/Edwards and made Wales in to a great team with the saying (on houer day we can beat any one) and under Gatland/Edwards that was true.

But now Gatland/Edwards have gone and Pivac has taken over and sorry to say Wales have gone back  to playing boring rugby. Who is there in the team/squad to give them that spark of life again?

This is more or less the complete opposite of what happened. The times Shane Williams was doing things, he was predominantly playing for Gatland or in good Welsh sides.

You’re suggesting that Gatland and Edwards had us playing attractive rugby mun  laughing. Their whole game was built on defence, relying on somebody like Josh Adams to pull something out of the bag. There’s a reason for all of Wales’ poor results, they still scored more tries in a season they finished 5th, compared to last season where they finished 1st.

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Post by mikey_dragon Tue 24 Nov 2020, 12:43 pm

It's like Miaow the knock-off version, with the amount of sh/te being written Rolling Eyes. Some folk just don't know when to stop.

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Post by Pot Hale Tue 24 Nov 2020, 1:01 pm

Absolutely. Has been boring since 2018/19. The RWC was dull as ditchwater and the comps held since. This ANC is just more of the same.

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Post by Gooseberry Tue 24 Nov 2020, 1:12 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Theres a fair few ex pros now pointing out how boring it is. Dawson while patting england on the  back suggests it'll be the reason that england go backwards, as the players will be too bored not attacking.

Is that his excuse for his eras England team absolutely pooing the bed after being told they'd ruined rugby by winning the world cup with up the jumper rugby by every SH commentator?


As for Jiffy...if theres a reason rugby gets boring its listening to him .



Honestly has there been a period in modern rugby where someone hasn't been moaning that the games got boring and/or that a rule change has ruined it? More ELVs?


Not saying the games perfect and constant tweaking isn't valuable, but I do get a bit fed up with the level of negativity and constant droning on about the good old days that never existed from aged pundits. We are definitely getting more ball in play time than we were 5 years back, how about celebrating the good things.

The way people talk you'd never think they could sell out Twickenham to a capacity (err 4000 cough) at a billion pound a ticket for the 6 nations, which as we know has the worst rugby played at the worst time of year.



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Post by Old Man Tue 24 Nov 2020, 1:19 pm

Nothing wrong with international rugby, it isn’t league, it is much more complex than that.

Tries scored in RWC QF, SF and finals

1987 – 41 tries
1991 – 21 tries
1995 – 32 tries
1999 – 28 tries
2003 – 30 tries
2007 – 25 tries
2011 – 20 tries
2015 – 40 tries
2019 – 36 tries

I don’t see a problem.

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Post by Gooseberry Tue 24 Nov 2020, 1:28 pm

Old Man wrote:Nothing wrong with international rugby, it isn’t league, it is much more complex than that.

Tries scored in RWC QF, SF and finals

1987 – 41 tries
1991 – 21 tries
1995 – 32 tries
1999 – 28 tries
2003 – 30 tries
2007 – 25 tries
2011 – 20 tries
2015 – 40 tries
2019 – 36 tries

I don’t see a problem.

The world cup final was unwatchable for me, game went rapidly downhill after the semi's Whistle

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Post by Old Man Tue 24 Nov 2020, 1:37 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
Old Man wrote:Nothing wrong with international rugby, it isn’t league, it is much more complex than that.

Tries scored in RWC QF, SF and finals

1987 – 41 tries
1991 – 21 tries
1995 – 32 tries
1999 – 28 tries
2003 – 30 tries
2007 – 25 tries
2011 – 20 tries
2015 – 40 tries
2019 – 36 tries

I don’t see a problem.

The world cup final was unwatchable for me, game went rapidly downhill after the semi's Whistle
laughing

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 24 Nov 2020, 2:33 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Theres a fair few ex pros now pointing out how boring it is. Dawson while patting england on the  back suggests it'll be the reason that england go backwards, as the players will be too bored not attacking.

Is that his excuse for his eras England team absolutely pooing the bed after being told they'd ruined rugby by winning the world cup with up the jumper rugby by every SH commentator?


As for Jiffy...if theres a reason rugby gets boring its listening to him .



Honestly has there been a period in modern rugby where someone hasn't been moaning that the games got boring and/or that a rule change has ruined it? More ELVs?


Not saying the games perfect and constant tweaking isn't valuable, but I do get a bit fed up with the level of negativity and constant droning on about the good old days that never existed from aged pundits. We are definitely getting more ball in play time than we were 5 years back, how about celebrating the good things.

The way people talk you'd never think they could sell out Twickenham to a capacity (err 4000 cough) at a billion pound a ticket for the 6 nations, which as we know has the worst rugby played at the worst time of year.



When people moan about boredom it generally means they have a great pack. Thing is england have played some brilliant rugby through forwards and backs as well as being good in grinding things out. This year has been stuttering, you can see the plan but execution has been poor. Should it click against Wales and whoever we play next ot should be fun.

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Post by king_carlos Tue 24 Nov 2020, 4:35 pm

LondonTiger wrote:
dummy_half wrote:
Union would be improved by at least partially following this example - get the defensive line back clearly behind the back of the breakdown, and strictly enforce offside. I reckon at present you could penalise the defensive team on at least a third of plays, with usually the third or fourth defender pushing up early. Another yard or two of space for the attack would make a big difference both for the power runners getting over the gain line and in the smarter handling players having a chance to offload.


I reckon it would be easily more than 50%. It is hard to be sure, with the current aggressive rush defences, exactly when they become offside versus the ball in play, but I would like to see them err on the side of punishing the defence, especially as teams try to make it as hard as possible to get clean ball so SHs are often digging for it.

The other thing that the Assistant Refs should monitor much more is the guys who chase the kicks being in front of the kicker. Happens pretty much all the time.
Agreed and agreed. I think that the offside line should be reffed erring on the side of punishing the defence. Then players flying into rucks off feet and sealing off should be reffed erring against the attacking side. The former cuts down space for attack illegally and the latter cuts down chances for turnovers, then counter attack.

Another thing I'd like refs to be stricter on is not giving 'holding on' penalties when the jackal isn't actually trying to strip the ball. So often now the jackaling player will trap the ball under the ball carriers body or look to pin the ball carriers arms to the ball rather than actually strip the ball from them, allowing a turnover and counter attack rather than penalty. If the ball carrier is actually 'holding on' fair enough but if the jackal is not trying to attack the ball, simply milk a penalty I'd like to see refs be stricter about not calling ball carriers for holding on when the jackal isn't trying to win the ball.

Elsewhere my frustrations are often also with existing rules not being enforced. If feeds were straight and hookers had to hook they might need to be more agile, hence not be third props. Likewise at the lineout where most hookers these days throw the ball from a foot inside the pitch and standing inline with their jumpers rather than the centre of 'the gap'.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Wed 25 Nov 2020, 7:34 am

The offside line is a big bug bear for me too. The ref either looks at the breakdown, the first defender, or out the line but isn’t in position to see all of it as the ball is lifted in the ruck.

Everything is triggered off the ball being out. The ref should be concentrating on the breakdown and shout ‘out’. The ref shouldn’t be doing anything around the off side line. That should be the assistant ref, I mean they stand on that bloody line looking across and should flag offside based on the ref calling the ball as out. All 3 try to look everywhere at all times. They are not just linespersons anymore. Second assistant ref should take ownership of the blindside of the breakdown

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Post by bsando Wed 25 Nov 2020, 8:51 am

Well said! The offside line seems to be a roll of the dice for a lot of refs, it has an unfair influence on games in my opinion.

As for jackaling I agree with the above comments, it seems more about presenting the correct body position to the ref rather than actually looking to turnover a ball. Only a few players can actually do it properly. Seeing a tighthead prop flop over in the right position without going off their feet to me isn't a turnover, it is just a player stuck in a ruck who can't be cleared out safely.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed 25 Nov 2020, 9:49 am

thebandwagonsociety wrote:The offside line is a big bug bear for me too. The ref either looks at the breakdown, the first defender, or out the line but isn’t in position to see all of it as the ball is lifted in the ruck.

Everything is triggered off the ball being out. The ref should be concentrating on the breakdown and shout ‘out’. The ref shouldn’t be doing anything around the off side line. That should be the assistant ref, I mean they stand on that bloody line looking across and should flag offside based on the ref calling the ball as out. All 3 try to look everywhere at all times. They are not just linespersons anymore. Second assistant ref should take ownership of the blindside of the breakdown

Tmo is looking at this now as well. I think that this is one area where it is reffed pretty well but teams are just more organised to press now. An area where a rule change to increase space could be trialled. Personally I'd leave it as it is.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed 25 Nov 2020, 9:55 am

And yes there are relaxed interpretations at the breakdown. Owens had another article or interview yesterday or the day before saying that the best refs know when to whistle and when to let the game flow. He gets alot of credit from pundits for this but tbh it annoys me a little. Particularly attacking rucks, as above you're more likely to get away with not supporting your weight in attack. Its normally only penalised if you have a jacket going in as well or its ignored as not stopping anyone. My thoughts on this is that you may not go for the jackal if you see someone already there and it means more people in the defensive line and hence harder for the attacking team. Personally I'd have the ref whistle the attacking team off the park for it for the longer term good.

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Post by Exiledinborders Sat 28 Nov 2020, 8:25 pm

tigertattie wrote:
dummy_half wrote:Interesting comment that more tries come from line-outs. Obviously some are attacking / driving maul tries, but others I'm sure are because there is a big gap between the back lines, so ball off the top and into midfield gives a carrier a few steps to get up to speed, making it more likely to get well over the gain line and put the defence on the back foot.

About 25 years ago, rugby league was going through a spell of being incredibly attritional. This was in part because the officials weren't pushing the defensive line back 10 yards - tended to be more like 7. The refs were encouraged to be more generous with the spacing and more ready to penalise for offside, and the result was a much more open and flowing game.

Union would be improved by at least partially following this example - get the defensive line back clearly behind the back of the breakdown, and strictly enforce offside. I reckon at present you could penalise the defensive team on at least a third of plays, with usually the third or fourth defender pushing up early. Another yard or two of space for the attack would make a big difference both for the power runners getting over the gain line and in the smarter handling players having a chance to offload.


For me this is why teams are kicking the ball so much. They can't run into space that is not there so they hoof the ball. The assistant refs need to be policing this side of the game much much more. It will lead to a period of death by penalty but then the players will adjust and will get back into the habit of not being offside.

Every team in every game is doing it. Examples below - Forgive the crudness of my examples, the BBC wouldnt loan me thier giant touch screen to show this.Has international rugby become boring? Irelan10
Has international rugby become boring? Scotla10

These are just two exmaples where you get a nice wide angle down the line. Neither one resulted in a penalty! Offending people circled in red.
In the Ireland France picture the ball is well clear of the ruck so how can you say there is offside?

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Post by Guest Sun 29 Nov 2020, 8:21 pm

It's great down in the SH.

The issue is the NH and the sheer lack of skill. Namely in rugby IQ and knowing both how to implement a gameplan, as well as how to adapt to it on the fly and just 'play' rugby. It's far too prescriptive up in the NH and we look like some kind of bad imitation of what they're doing down in Australia when it comes to attacking rugby. Only the French look half decent and know how to finish off a break with supporting runners.

Lockdown has clearly taken all momentum out of some teams and players. Also NH rugby without fans shows just how much is based on grit and determination and pressure in packed out stadia.

I wouldn't pay to watch any of the Home Nations in the flesh in all honesty. England are impressive but they're not a 'good' team to watch, too much hanging around, too stop-start. May as well enjoy them from TV. Ireland dull, Wales just shocking, Scotland at least play some pleasing rugby on the eye but it's third rate in comparison to what we see from the Wallabies and Kiwis. I'd pay to watch France, they've been impressive enough in enough games to convince me they have the basic components to become a proper, enjoyable, and winning NH team over the next few years.

We either need to get back to a form of rugby where the ref has less of a say, or more of one - more consistent between refs as well. Which means sacking off the French apart from maybe Garces. That way, we get either a more honest, brutal, arm wrestle form of rugby - think the Top 14 - where games are decided on individual skill and moments of madness/brilliance. Or we end up with a super technical form of rugby where we prioritise skill above all else - skill when it comes to accuracy at the breakdown, of passing, of running lines, of intelligence of play.

NH rugby is stuck in no man's land between wanting to play technical rugby but not having the players who can do it, or the coaches who can rip up the rule book for any length of time. When one team gets ahead and finds their 'niche', they're quickly copied by other coaches and their point of difference is gone. It's telling that Exeter are just about the only NH side that has their own distinct and consistent form of winning rugby: it's not great for the neutral. Leinster/Ireland might be the only other team that can claim that as well and it's similarly dull and about 'gang carrying' in the 22. We're miles away from the running rugby in the SH. SA play far better club rugby than any NH nation does, including France. It's a North v South issue tbh.

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Post by bsando Mon 30 Nov 2020, 8:02 am

I think world rugby should seriously consider banning the caterpillar box kick defence (what is it even called?). That has pretty much eliminated the chance of a charge down from a ruck. Even just a couple of charge downs a game breaks up any structured play and makes life more difficult for the defensive team. The quality of box kicks are really good now as well and teams can gain a lot of metres with not too many kicks going out on the full.

Also, with the rush defence, if world rugby police that harder it could reap some rewards as others have mentioned above. If you're allowing the attacking side even half a second longer to get the ball out there's a slightly better chance of beating that rush defence.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 30 Nov 2020, 8:08 am

Theres a couple of notable guys coming out to say we're currently in this phase of rugby due to a new interpretation of rucks which was meant to create more attacking rugby. Personally I think we need to stop tweaking things and let them settle for a while.

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Post by lostinwales Mon 30 Nov 2020, 9:12 am

I remember how the experimental laws that were supposed to reduce kicking instead caused all games to become pingpong

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Post by Gooseberry Mon 30 Nov 2020, 11:15 am

Previous two comments...yeah theres often been a case of the reverse of an intended change happening. The kicking ELVs a classic!

The ruck laws to favour the attacker...whos going to commit defenders if you aren't allowed to compete for or slow the ball? Just means more guys in the line.

Short of making it a 13 man game to open up space (which also means more space to kick into ...) I am open to the idea of pushing the defensive line back further/stricter enforcement of offside if its felt the blitz defence is what's making it unattractive to play ball in hand (and also leaves space to make the chips/crossfields attractive). The problem is we could end up seeing a return to the endless pick and drive stuff of the previous cycle with teams knowing they can get a few metres every phase with no risk till they cross the try line.


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Post by Recwatcher16 Mon 30 Nov 2020, 1:46 pm

If fitness and power are the variables that have relatively gone up in recent years, at the expense of pace and skill, then the game inevitably becomes RL style attritional.

The breakdown has become competitive compared to a couple of years ago, when successful sides were going off their feet and sealing of the ball at a 'ruck and possession was king with endless phases.

Today's problem is that with defensive game plans in the NH, teams have lost the art of counterattack. The ABs were masters of letting oppositions hold the ball and then turnover the ball and make devastating line breaks and score tries, which needs skill and pace - most of the 6N sides currently don't have much of either.

If you ever read EJ's book you can see that he can very innovative - his Brumbies three phase attack system was much admired and then copied, but his focus is undoubtedly on Paris 2023 RWC, which is probably his last shot at the title. EJ has shown the capacity mid game to be able to change a teams tactics and so he clearly has a three year strategy subject to accounting for ref interpretation changes and a first team pool of players to pick from with a couple of positional exceptions.

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Post by dummy_half Mon 30 Nov 2020, 2:31 pm

Recwatcher
I think you have to add organisation and discipline (in terms of positioning / doing a job for the team rather than with regards to penalties) to things that have improved over the last decade or so. Defending teams have their system and the players know their role within that, so you don't get many mis-matches with e.g. props covering wingers in space.

Agree regarding counter-attacking - how often do you see a turn-over being followed by a big kick downfield to gain territory but yielding possession. And yet look at Johnny May's try v Ireland where an overthrown lineout ball was spun across England's back line to a guy with undoubted pace. It can be done, but it seems too often the NH teams don't want to do it.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 30 Nov 2020, 4:17 pm

Just seen these comments on the BBC from Andy Farrell: '"I thought Georgia thoroughly earned the right to slow our game down by being total menaces at the breakdown, and all credit to them for that but that's not good enough from us," said Farrell.

"If you have the courage of your own convictions then you'll follow through with whatever it may be.

"If you're trying to get the ball to the wide channels then let's do it properly. Let's make sure that there's proper intent in our play to get it there.

"There certainly was opportunities to get it to space out wide, we just tucked and probably turned ourselves back inside on a number of occasions and got turned over at the breakdown.

Georgia caused Ireland problems in the scrum and at the breakdown
"We punched onto a ball a couple of times towards the end of the game really hard and tough, and then our breakdown work was able to follow.

"Sometimes I didn't think we had conviction with our carry as well and therefore it was able to slow our ball down."

Think there's something to be said that teams sometimes take a little while to adapt to changes in the game. Farrell obviously thinks there needs to be adaptations to how to get around these defences but players can revert to the tried and tested easily.

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Post by Guest Mon 30 Nov 2020, 4:44 pm

Gooseberry wrote:Previous two comments...yeah theres often been a case of the reverse of an intended change happening. The kicking ELVs a classic!

The ruck laws to favour the attacker...whos going to commit defenders if you aren't allowed to compete for or slow the ball? Just means more guys in the line.

Short of making it a 13 man game to open up space (which also means more space to kick into ...) I am open to the idea of pushing the defensive line back further/stricter enforcement of offside if its felt the blitz defence is what's making it unattractive to play ball in hand (and also leaves space to make the chips/crossfields attractive). The problem is we could end up seeing a return to the endless pick and drive stuff of the previous cycle with teams knowing they can get a few metres every phase with no risk till they cross the try line.  


They did this 2 years ago. It's why Courtney Lawes was judged offside v NZ for Underhill's try. The issue is no one actually enforces this law. That's the main issue with the defensive line: it basically makes defending on your own line impossible. Which is good, because it'll reward quick ball with players having to rush to get back onside. Look at how Ireland tore Wales to shreds by getting over the gainline each time: if you have that sort of situation, we suddenly create a game where teams return to what they always used to - treat possession as everything and value the ball. If having the ball is seen as a benefit, wherever you are in the pitch, that makes rugby better. Yes, you'll get teams like Ireland and Exeter that play fairly bogstandard pick and drive rugby, but you can't do that from 50m out without sealing off eventually. It also rewards running rugby.

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Post by bsando Wed 02 Dec 2020, 7:39 am

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/dec/01/eddie-jones-believes-fewer-breaks-in-play-attacking-rugby-union

Eddie Jones take on this...

I agree with him about stoppages and that we don't want to dumb down rugby too much. Scrums will always be an enigma as will many other parts of the game. As I mentioned in an older thread I started pre RWC last year (https://www.606v2.com/t68958-will-the-dark-arts-be-called-out-by-referees-during-the-rwc?highlight=dark+arts) the dark arts are one of the most interesting parts of rugby union which is why players and fans alike enjoy a beer together after games and never get too serious about poor reffing decisions (unlike another ball sport).

Jones also mentions officiating and the need for consistency. I think he is wrong about this part. Consistency should be an individual referee's intention, but to try and mould every referee into a certain style that is consistent is not humanly possible. Each referee posses their own traits or style and it just wouldn't work to try and turn a Nigel Owens style referee into a Romain Poite mould for example. This statement is also a bit contradictory by Jones because it would essentially be dumbing down the officiating. Another little intricacy of Union is that a referee can influence games by the way they referee certain aspects of a match (breakdown, scrums, set piece etc).

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Post by Old Man Wed 02 Dec 2020, 8:38 am

Yep agree about your take on referees, it would be impossible to remove the human factor out of refereeing, thus as long as the individual is consistent in his interpretation of the laws that is as good as it gets.

It is human nature that our interpretations will never be consistent from one to another.

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Post by bsando Wed 02 Dec 2020, 9:21 am

Precisely!

Jones is right that they need to be working together more though. I don't know what the current setup is but I'm sure they use tools like Zoom to arrange meetings and discussions. Face to face is much better of course but in the current situation remote meetings is necessary.

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Post by Gooseberry Wed 02 Dec 2020, 9:25 am

From a coaches and players point of view the lack of consistency must be infuriating though. The debacle with England vs Italy a few years back and all the abuse Haskell took because the ref fundamentally disagreed on the laws meant a whole tactical approach had to be worked out on the fly.

Course if you argue that's exactly what we need to spice things up a bit. If the core complaint about modern rugby is that teams are too well drilled and play too structured now leading to low risk rugby and predictability then how about we just pick some guy off the street who's never seen rugby and get them to ref it?

Unkind souls would suggest that's what world rugby already do with their elite referees


Joking aside I do agree that theres a limit to how robotic and consistent a ref can be, and the lines between what is holding on and what isn't for example are fuzzy. Laws of the game and the guidance cant cover every single factor that goes into a decision, you only have to look at the absurd length of the regulations around handball in soccer to see what happens when you try to...and still people feel its inconsistent and not applied evenly. Sometimes as well refs will just see something different to what the coach has seen.

But still as a coach and player you want to know that what youve been training is how the games going to be played on the day of the match.

Pivac talking to the refs before and after games made him sound a bit like a big baby but its been a core part of the rugby approach for a long time. Teams can submit questions to the refs in advance etc to mitigate against some of the inconsistency and cover any crazy tactics they have dreamed up. World rugby has gotten better in the pro era about ensuring that the H and SH refs crossover, and that they have a central body overseeing and reviewing them all to at least make sure its the same sport they are reffing. They get the same directives and they have a private forum for discussing the big issues and interpretations. Things arent perfect now, but its better than it was 20 years ago and that was better than it was in the days when touring sides would turn up and find a ref employed to ensure they lost.

Theres then this ongoing question about cards, if an offence is worth one in the 80th minute surely its worth one in the first minute...but do refs "owe the game" to let it slide and err on the side of caution? Its another of those things we are told ruins the game and ask refs to use discretion on. But discretion by its nature is inconsistent, its driven partly by emotion.

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Post by Old Man Wed 02 Dec 2020, 9:45 am

I think it is vital for professional teams to study referees, like Rassie did for the rwc in 2019, the put huge effort into understanding individual referees.

Even then a team must have the ability to adapt during the game, each match creates its own “ situations “ which means the same referee will officiate one match differently to a match with different teams, its only natural, even if his interpretations are consistent for a specific match.

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