Australian fetcher Phil Waugh reckons that good openside flanks, or ‘fetchers’, play their game on the limit of the law, and should try to get away with as much as a referee will allow.
Phil Coetzer writes for Rugby 365 that Waugh arrived in Cape Town with his Australian team-mates on Sunday, and aired his thoughts on South Africa’s 0-19 loss to the All Blacks in their Tri-Nations clash at Newlands on Saturday, a result which meant that Australia and New Zealand were now in the driving seat for the Tri-Nations title.
“I thought New Zealand obviously played very well,” said Waugh.
“I think the South Africans certainly had their chances, particularly early in that second half.
“They were pressing against the All Blacks line, and obviously turned it over, and ended up losing quite convincingly.
“But I think had those turning points gone the other way, and had Percy [Montgomery] kicked a couple of penalties, the game would have been a lot closer.”
Waugh felt that the value of openside flanks has increased with the advent of the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs), considering how open the game can be at times under the new laws.
“I think there are more opportunities [for fetchers] now. The game opens up and you have more isolated players than you had in the past, therefor the opportunities increase,” he said.
“We certainly saw that [on Saturday], the opportunities were there, but the South Africans just couldn’t quite get there, and turned the ball over at crucial times.”
The Newlands Test has prompted much debate over the breakdown, and way in which the Springboks were denied quick recycling of their possession.
Not only was the Springbok ball slow to emerge, but they also suffered countless turnovers, which has to be put down to the effectiveness at the breakdown of the Kiwi loose forwards, especially skipper Richie McCaw.
Springbok skipper Victor Matfield felt that during the match, the New Zealand tackler would typically fail to roll away after executing the tackle, which is of course against the laws of the game, and would have the effect of slowing down the speed at which the recycled ball becomes available for the next phase of play.
But referee Matt Goddard did not share that view with Matfield during the game, and the Kiwis prospered, winning the game ultimately by a convincing margin.
Waugh felt that McCaw might have gotten away with a bit more than his opposite numbers on Saturday, but that it meant that he was reading the referee’s interpretation of the laws better than the opposition.
“Good on him if he does!” Waugh said of McCaw’s exploits.
“It’s such a fine line that referees have to call on out there on the field, sometimes the calls go for you, sometimes they go against you.
“I think it’s always about playing according to how the referee’s blowing the game,” he explained.
“Unfortunately for the Boks they got penalised continuously in that first quarter of the game, and that hurt them spiritually as well as on the field.
“Obviously they’ll be very frustrated with that, it could just as easily have gone for them as against them, so it’s just one of those frustrating things.”
The Aussie veteran made some very valid points, and considering it’s a professional game, with everything riding on the final result, it was up to flanks to fine-tune their technique, and try and pinch every little advantage afforded to them.
“The referee plays obviously an integral part in the game, but there’s more to a game than just the referee,” Waugh continued.
“You make your own luck. As I said Richie McCaw gets away with those things in the breakdowns, he’s obviously very quick at getting the ball, so he’s got it right and worked with the way the game was being refereed.”Tweet