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Has international rugby become boring?

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Post by RDW Mon 23 Nov 2020, 9:11 am

First topic message reminder :

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 No 7&1/2 Wed 02 Dec 2020, 10:00 am

Gooseberry wrote: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.

Didnt help that Poite made a fair few errors on that particular ruling as well hence why the laws changed!

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Post by dummy_half Wed 02 Dec 2020, 4:52 pm

Goose
On the last point, given that red cards are generally for dangerous play, there should be no difference whether it's the first play of the game or the last. It may spoil the game as a spectacle, but it's the fault of the offending player, not of the referee. And of course it can lead to some insanely good individual performances to compensate, such as May against Argentina after Daly's early dismissal.

Blaming the ref for a correct red card decision is completely unjustified.

I agree that refs generally are doing a reasonably unbiased job now - it's just frustrating that their style has such a big influence on the match. There are certain referees where I know England are going to have a hard time and others I have no concerns over - it isn't bias, just that we better to what certain refs allow. And yes, it is the subjective questions like judging offensive holding on v defensive not allowing fair release.

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Post by Gooseberry Fri 04 Dec 2020, 8:05 am

dummy_half wrote:Goose
On the last point, given that red cards are generally for dangerous play, there should be no difference whether it's the first play of the game or the last. It may spoil the game as a spectacle, but it's the fault of the offending player, not of the referee. And of course it can lead to some insanely good individual performances to compensate, such as May against Argentina after Daly's early dismissal.

Blaming the ref for a correct red card decision is completely unjustified.

I agree that refs generally are doing a reasonably unbiased job now - it's just frustrating that their style has such a big influence on the match. There are certain referees where I know England are going to have a hard time and others I have no concerns over - it isn't bias, just that we better to what certain refs allow. And yes, it is the subjective questions like judging offensive holding on v defensive not allowing fair release.

Yeah in theory I agree, but its a regular complaint against cards in general that they turn a game too much, and an early red can completely make a game fall flat on its face and feel like the result was in no doubt from the off. So maybe the cards system itself is on issue that could be addressed, but as with ice hockey you tend to see more points scored and more drama when theres players off...so maybe we should have more shorter cards. Guess thats one way of getting a 13 man game and letting the forwards get a rest Whistle

Another point this reminded me of was a study from NFL a couple of years ago that showed fan interest both in engagement on social media and viewing figures in following weeks tended to peak when there was a controversy in the sport. You only have to look on here to see everyone loves to be a victim and cant wait to get the knives in to the boo boys on the opposition. The English are still obsessed with a handball in soccer from nearly 40 years ago, and in turn "the hand of Back" is still remembered as his defining moment. As much as we state we want to see fair even contests and that sport should be a pristine clean thing with robotic laws and absolutes its not what actually drives fans in reality. We love to feel hard done by! Its the roller coaster of emotions and desire to get one back on a perceived enemy that really ups things. Big rivalries, the Wales Ireland rivalry flared up a few years back after some tight matches and controversial moments, thats good for the long term product.

Not to say that we wont bad reffing, but having those big decisions cause swings in games and sometimes even enabling a weaker team a better chance of winning can help stop the game feeling so flat.

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Post by Gooseberry Sun 06 Dec 2020, 3:45 pm

Worst sport ever

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