Eddie Jones, who coached the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup Final and won gold at the 2007 World Cup with South Africa, has warned that the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) are turning the game of Rugby Union into a hybrid of rival code Rugby League.
Writing in his column in the Brisbane-based The Courier Mail at the weekend, Eddie Jones warned that the ELVs could make the game “too generic” — robbing it of the distinctive characteristics that has made Union such a popular sport around the world.
While Union, as a code, continues to grow around the globe, League is restricted to a few areas — mainly Australia and the North of England, with no other countries having major competitive leagues.
“One of the best games of last year’s World Cup was the Fiji-South Africa quarterfinal in Marseilles,” Jones said in his column in The Courier Mail.
“We had the brilliant broken field rugby of Fiji competing with the structure and power of the Springboks.
“It produced seven tries.
“Both teams had successful World Cups because they played what I call ‘culturally sympathetic rugby’ — rugby suited to the country’s culture and the natural instincts of the players.
“The laws of the game in 2007 allowed teams to play in many different styles and be successful if you were good enough.
“This brings me to the experimental law variations (ELVs). My major concern is still that it will make the game too generic.
“Football codes like AFL, Rugby League and soccer have a small number of laws that allow plenty of ball movement for the spectacle.
“Rugby League, for instance, took the contest out of the scrum and stopped raking the ball at the play-the-ball where Wally Lewis once stole key possessions. “Stripping the ball has been eliminated.
“This has made League a faster-moving game but has also made it predictable. “You now win by field position and completing sets. By simplifying the laws of Rugby (Union) we run the same risk.
“Take the World Cup. England beat Australia by taking the game at the scrum and breakdown. Argentina beat France through kick-chase expertise. France upset New Zealand by dominating the ruck and the ‘Boks beat England in the Final by controlling the line-outs.
“At first view, the ELVs have elevated the importance of unstructured attack and some games seem an endless stream of free kicks. This favours sides with powerful, instinctive athletes, which is why the Blues and Crusaders are looking unbeatable in Super 14 right now.
“Furthermore, the ELVs encourage sides to cheat. The Waratahs look happy to give away a free kick on engagement on the opposition’s scrum ball to negate the potential gains for the attacking team exploiting a defence standing five metres back from the scrum.”
SW Note: Thanks to Bryce for this articleTweet