Sharksworld newby Dancing Bear has written a piece airing his thoughts on the ELV’s and their effect on the game as we know it today. Now that you’ve seen the ELV’s in action during the S14 for a while. How do you feel about it?
There is very little argument that the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) as implemented partially in the Super 14 and the full implementation in the Vodacom Cup have changed the game of Rugby Union in some way. Some will feel that any change to this great game that we all love will diminish the game, while others will feel that the game should continue to evolve, and in their opinion improve. Consequently there are some that will feel the ELVs change the game and in their opinion any change is bad, while others will look to the ELVs and try to determine if the change is a positive one for Rugby Union.
Personally, I believe that if both teams play positively to the ELVs, in other words, don’t take advantage of the fact it is only a short arm to slow down opposition ball. If both teams play positively within the laws, the occasional transgression, usually resulting from a physical error (dropping one knee when playing a ball after the tackle, etc), and punished by a short arm, would keep the game flowing. Where I get frustrated with the ELVs is when one team chooses to play negative rugby and is only penalized with a short arm, and they take advantage of that. Then the referee is forced to give penalties or other forms of penalty (yellow and red cards) to one team while the other team “appears” to be favoured, even if that is not the case. This is when the ELVs become ridiculous in my mind; it is no longer a fair contest because each team is being given different punishment for the same transgression, even if that team brought it on themselves. The problem is it turns the game into a spectacle and not a game of rugby, which is what happened unfortunately in the second half of the Sharks game.
I thoroughly enjoy the flowing nature of the game under the ELVs when both teams are playing positively. It is nothing like League in my opinion, which I find to be like Gridiron, very stop/start. If anything, I believe the ELVs when played to positively cause the game to be more flowing, exciting, and still competitive at the breakdown, which in my opinion are all positive features of Union.
Based on this I feel that the only change to the ELVs (as they are implemented in the Super 14) should be how the referees handle a team choosing to not play positive rugby. In this case, the referee should warn both captains that any further action by EITHER TEAM that transgresses the law at the breakdown will be punished by penalty. Then if needed he would do the same thing for yellow cards. This way the offending team would have to think twice about playing slow down rugby, because of the harsh penalty, and the positive team would keep playing knowing they were rarely transgressing anyway. I am not saying this would make teams play more positively necessarily, however, it would be a fair way to handle the situation, and the deserving team would be penalized more anyway and would end up losing by giving up points to kicks.
As for the full implementation of the ELVs, I don’t think I like the idea of letting teams pull down the maul, and therefore also don’t like the idea of allowing truck and trailer from the maul. All that will do will change mauling technique into something much looser and, in my opinion uglier. It results in a team setting up a maul, breaking away with a truck and trailer, setting up another maul from that, and then same thing again. I don’t like that, I prefer the feature of the strong team effort making a maul successful with cohesive movement, strong binding, and good body position.
I also don’t like the idea of not matching numbers in the lineout, I just don’t see how this is going to change the game positively in any way. It just seems rather silly to me as it will have very little effect on the game in my opinion. It might take some of the advantage from a team defending their goal line and throwing in.
I don’t believe the ELVs have taken away from strong scrumming teams, in fact, teams can still take advantage of this, and with the 5 meter rule, is even more of an attacking platform now for strong scrumming team. I believe that with a strong scrum and an attacking 5 meter scrum, the attacking team should score almost all the time. Just like the Bulls scored against the Hurricanes, just wheel the scrum to the favored side,
8 man pickup and drive at the 10, always a better match up for the 8.
With the other loosies having to stay bound, they are taken out of it as well.
I like the new kicking out of the 22 law. It just makes teams think a little more, and promotes a more attacking mindset. It also encourages tactical kicking without going into touch. A strong tactical kicking team can definitely take advantage of this and will keep a team less savvy in tactical kicking, pinned in their own half all day long. This too is something that makes Rugby Union, Rugby Union.
Generally I think that the ELVs (bar the maul collapsing, truck and trailer, and lineouts) have enhanced the features of Rugby Union that make the sport unique. In other words, they have made the game flow more, they have made the game more competitive at the tackle, they have made the scrum an even more attacking platform, and they have enhanced the positive effect of good tactical kicking. These are all features unique and wonderful in the sport we all love, and they play in heaven.
Perhaps the only unique feature of Rugby Union that has taken a bit of a beating with the ELVs are the lineouts in that there are less of them during the game, but if you leave the lineout laws alone, and leave the mauling laws alone, the lineouts are still an excellent attacking platform.
Sharksworld Note: Thanks to DB for letting us use this piece.Tweet