Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Zzzzzzzzzz Ping-Pong?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks the Autumn Internationals fizzled rather than sizzled. 

OK so there were a few good games.  Scotland vs Australia was a tense defensive affair, Ireland vs South Africa was pulsating game (even though I felt like I was watching "Gorillas in the Mist" at times with the fog at Croke Park), whilst the game between France and New Zealand was by far and away the best game of the lot.  This game proved that rugby doesn't have to sacrifice itself to constant route one ball if teams play with attacking flair and display a desire to play with the ball in their hands rather than have it flying off their feet. 

Still, despite the odd exception, on the whole this November's array of international rugby was really rather drab.

Wake me up when they start playing love

Yesterday the IRB decided not to change any laws to try and spice up the game before the Rugby World Cup in two years time.  I can understand this as it is a bit of a risk so late in the World Cup cycle, but by leaving the laws alone it does seems that the short term future for rugby is one of the following two options:

Option 1:
Players will become increasingly fearful of being turned over or penalised whilst running with the ball due to the current interpretation of the laws at the breakdown as they seem to favour the defending team.  This will transform rugby into a burly game of 15-a-side ping-pong, with players anxious to kick the ball away and hope their opposition messes up before they do, all with tedious results.

Option 2:
Players will think: Sod all this kicking malarkey.  I want to play rugby, not some game of glorified gorilla tennis.  This will result in players zipping round the pitch, offloading for fun and avoiding the big, lurching forwards who amble around the pitch attempting to snaffle the ball off them at the breakdown.

Is this the future?

I prey to the Gods of Rugby that all teams take heed of Australia and New Zealand's performances in their final games of the autumn series and run with the ball.  If you're not isolated and left to die in possession then the mysteries surrounding the breakdown are of little consequence.  This is because you'll be far too busy trotting under the posts to dab the ball down instead of rolling around on the floor with some fat bloke looming over you as he attempts to rip the ball out of your muddy little hands.

Are we in for plenty of snore-fest rugby ping-pong over the next two years?

I hope not.

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