There is a package of things we are
concerned about the way the game
looks.Steve tew
he law may well be an ass, but it can’t be held solely
responsible for rugby not knowing what type of game it
is. The All Blacks and South Africa are about the only two
international sides who truly know what they want the
game to like.
For the former, it is an all encompassing sport that requires
players to be able to pass, catch, run, kick and tackle. The All
Blacks talk of their triple threat game – which effectively means
they are hunting for space on the field by either passing into it,
running into it or kicking.
The South Africans aren’t much different. They have a
different view on the best angles to run – being more prone as
they are to look for contact than space – but they know they want
a physical and an aerobic contest rolled into one.
Because both these sides have faith in their own plan and their
own skills to implement it, contests between them have tended to
be memorably good. The 2013 clash in Johannesburg was possibly
the greatest of the modern age and the one at the same venue a
year later wasn’t far behind.
These two are the exception, however, with Australia sharing a
similarly positive mindset if not the same array of individual and
collective skills. Most other international teams are gripped by a
different, reactive, slightly negative mindset.
A number of factors have contributed to that, not the least of
which is the laws and their erratic interpretations.
It is a common view in professional clubs and national sides in
the Northern Hemisphere that defence is the best form of attack.
There’s a lack of confidence that teams will be refereed the way
they expect at the tackle area and offside line, therefore, its best
to not have the ball.
It was Hansen, again, who made this point publicly earlier this
year when he was in the UK to analyse some Six Nations matches.
For the game to thrive, it’s got to be policed,” he said. “The refs
and touch-judges have got to police it and we as coaches and
players, we’ve got to push to have people onside. There’s a
responsibility to the game. If we don’t do that, then we are not
going to have any running rugby.
But I think there’s a responsibility on the coaches and the
players as well. We are all trying to get defensive lines up really
quickly, but I think weve probably gone too far with it.
“There were only three tries scored in the two games I went to
over the weekend. No one is prepared to take the risk, because
they are going to get belted behind the advantage line if they
move the ball. Rugby at the moment is all geared to defences doing
stuff that inhibits the attacking game, regardless of who it is.
“There are so many people going off their feet at the
breakdown and everybody has got their hands on the ground and
they are allowing that to happen. It’s slowing the ball down and if
No-one understands
the tackled ball rules.