Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri has labelled as “short-sighted” remarks by Springboks flyer Bryan Habana that the new laws on trial in the Super 14 are making rugby union become more like rugby league.
Article courtesy Rupert Guiness, rugbyheaven.co.nz.
Tuqiri, who played his first game under experimental law variations [ELVs] in NSW’s 20-3 Super 14 round one win over the Hurricanes in Sydney last Saturday, believes union will prosper by being faster and less stop-start. He also applauds the way the game under the ELVs requires players to be better all-round athletes than before.
Tuqiri’s comments come after Habana, the Bulls winger, criticised the laws for taking away the many breaks in the game, rather than welcoming them.
“I don’t know what he is frustrated about. He [should] like the fast pace of it, the fact he is a speed merchant,” said Tuqiri, who flies to New Zealand with the Waratahs tomorrow to play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
Habana said yesterday that rugby union has “a lot more rugby league feel on it” under the news laws that are an International Rugby Board initiative. He is also worried that, with the new laws, there is “no stop-start” in the game. “If guys wanted to play rugby league, they’d go out and play rugby league,” Habana said. “The essence of what rugby is about is something that I don’t think any player or any supporter wants to see lost. There’s something special about rugby; your forwards pride themselves on the scrum and lineout and your backs pride themselves on that contest against the opposition. The backs are running against the forwards now and the forwards are running against the backs. So it’s a little bit of a mix-up at the moment.”
However, Tuqiri believes that a player of Habana’s speed and ability with ball in hand should revel under the new laws. Tuqiri showed, against the Hurricanes, how it is possible, regularly making use of the opportunities the new laws create for finding gaps.
“It is a bit short-sighted,” Tuqiri said of Habana’s stance, believing that backs like he and Habana should “want to go up against a slower bloke to try and work him over in defence”.
He added: “I guess with these new rules you can do that and they actually give you the chance to do that. You also have to be an athlete to play the [new] game. You have to be fitter. That will also be a positive.”
Tuqiri, who played league with the Broncos before joining the Waratahs in 2003, also disagrees with Habana that playing rugby under news laws is like playing league again. “It has been a while since I played rugby league but I didn’t think that,” Tuqiri said.
Furthermore, Tuqiri believes players need to accept that after only one week’s use in the Super 14 – the highest level of competition in which the new laws have been trialled – adapting to them will still take time.
“He is entitled to his opinion, [but] it is only the first week and there are going to be teething problems. The rules are an improvement on the game. They are a positive for the game,” he said.
While some sides had difficulty understanding and putting the new laws into practice, Tuqiri believes NSW helped themselves by preparing well in the off-season. “We went over all the laws, put them on the white board, then went through the pros and cons on how to exploit some,” he said.
“We got onto the park and practised. I don’t think we got caught out as much as other teams.”
But Tuqiri agrees with Habana that with the new laws yet to be approved for Tests, returning to the old ones will be hard. The Wallabies will have to do just that after the Super 14 for their home fixtures against Ireland and France.
Habana said: “I don’t really understand because the southern hemisphere teams are playing with it in the Super 14, then come the June Tests we revert back to the old laws, then come the Tri Nations we revert back to the new laws again.” Tuqiri said: “That is going to be pretty tough. You can’t have one game to play and then another.”
The Waratahs, who trained yesterday without ill second-rower Dan Vickerman, will name a team for Saturday’s game tomorrow.Tweet