Change the Laws – Baldrick’s take on the game

Written by Alan Williams (Baldrick)

Posted in :Original Content on 4 Dec 2009 at 10:21
Tagged with : ,

Morne wrote recently to leave the laws as they are, and I would like to offer a converse view – please IRB, change them!

At the moment there are a few issues of contention, one of my major gripes is the role of the Assistant Referee, AKA the Touch Judge.

How often do we see skew throws? If the opposition didn’t contest, I see no problem there, although “rulz is rulz” and within reason, a throw should be about as straight down the middle as possible. Since the ref is generally standing to the side, he can’t gauge accurately, whereas the TJ is watching the trajectory from an ideal viewpoint and is in perfect position to rule on the straightness – or not – of a throw.

The second is the breakdown, a major problem in the modern game, because slowing it down and not rolling away and killing attacking ball is not penalised, but REWARDED! What game rewards negative play? Isn’t this “the game made/played in heaven”? Yes we want to see big hits, but ultimately, we want to see tries. In essence, attacking play is penalised way more than negative play at the breakdown, and I have the solution.

Anyone who shouldn’t be there, should be rucked out. No stomping mind you, but let him know, he’ll get a back or leg full of studs for being in the wrong place.

Rucking was outlawed on the premise that it was dangerous. Since then, eye-gouging has been on the increase, certainly a bigger blight on the game. Blood injuries are commonplace, suggesting that injuries are going to occur at the breakdown even without rucking.

And by allowing rucking, it will signal a warning to the cheaters of the game that their misbehaviour will be dealt with and they will be less inclined to be where unwelcome boots can find them.

This will speed up the attacking play and result in more enjoyable rugby. And don’t just take my word for it….

Rob Andrew, RFU’s director of elite rugby has warned the International Rugby Board that spectators were being driven away by laws that were killing the game as a spectacle.

The Rugby Football Union has blamed referee interpretations for the recent injury crisis and the negative, safety-first tactics that were prevalent. On average only 2.2 tries were scored per match in the third quarter of this year, any ambition thwarted by the reality that laws make it easier to defend than attack.

“I’m very concerned that attendances will start to decline unless changes are made. I think we’re seeing it already,” RugbyeNews reports him saying. “You just have to talk to people in the game, including some of the coaches who have said they’re turning the TV off themselves when they’re watching matches.

” Now you’re better off without the ball than with it, which isn’t what rugby should strive for. The risk in keeping the ball hand is too large. There are some fascinating stats from this year’s Tri Nations, showing how little time South Africa had the ball yet they won the tournament. In one match against New Zealand they made the lowest number of team passes in any Tri Nations match ever, yet still won. The New Zealand scrumhalf made more than that on his own.”


  • Baldrick I don’t know whether you watched Boots and all last night, according to Andre Watson, SANZAR is fighting to get rucking allowed back into the laws.

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.12.09 11:34:13 by Sharksmad - The Blog's Dudette Reply
    Sharksmad - The Blog's DudetteSuper Rugby player
  • Baldi I do not know if you managed to catch Boots and All last night when Andre Watson was on?

    Anycase before I get to that I think you will not find a rugby supporter in the world that will not support the return of rucking – even Andre Watson said it should be brought back!!!

    Anycase, the two instance you mentioned, the skew throw in’s (and I would want to highlight this for scrums too) is not so much an issue with the law, but with the person calling it or the person supposed to call it, TJ and Ref.

    Your second instance you mention in the rucks is also more a case of the interpretation of the law, or lack thereof and not so much the law itself.

    You see the laws clearly states that the tackler must firstly release the tackled player, the tackled player must be allowed to place the ball and the tackler must return to his feet, support himself and his own weight before he is allowed to play the ball and once a ruck is formed, no hands in (that last bit changed now this week with an ammendment to the law).

    The problem is more in the application of the law than the law itself.

    The problem for refs is that the breakdown is a contact area at which everything happens at quite high speed and he needs to make judgment calls in seconds.

    For teams it is quite simple however, any breakdown behind the advantage line for the attacking team he has over a 50% chance of losing the ball and the defenders more than 50% winning it.

    The same when they cross the advantage line and a ruck ensues, obviously with the advantage to the attacking team and not the defending team.

    What I may support at rucks is a simplification of the laws, of which bringing back rucking will sort out a large part of this and that players can use their hands in the ruck provided they are on their feet and entered the ruck correctly (not offside, i.e. through the gate).

    The latter part of the law was introduced recently and I think we will see the difference.

    However I still stand by my point, the problem is not the laws, but firstly how teams are coached and their execution levels within the game and their game plan, and secondly how the laws are applied (inconsistently).

    Lastly on Andre Watson, those who watched it will agree that we as arm-chair critics, but even commentators and reporters and some times coaches gets calls wrong where in fact the referee was 100% correct with his call on the day…

    In fact, I would venture to say we get it wrong more (in our criticism) than what refs do in a match on match day…

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.12.09 11:41:14 by Morné Reply
    MornéTeam captain
  • Hi Guys
    No, I didn’t see B&A, I’m only allowed limited rugby TV time!

    As to the laws, 100%, it’s not always the laws as the interpretation of them, and therefor the law is an ass for not being clear cut on the issue.

    How many players actually “Place” the ball on being tackled, how many have both feet on the ground but resting against a player, enter from the side (a particularly bad problem in NH reffing), ad how many people seal off the ball illegally, both attacking or defending.

    My feeling is that the refs are not reffing the breakdown well, added to that, the laws make it hard for them.

    Ruck players out and it will sort everything out.

    The threat of being rucked will minimise negative play. It certainly won’t increase the injuries.

    But thrilled to hear he is in favour of it.

    And anyway, I saw at least 3 cases of rucking on the EOYT matches that went unpunished, so again, the law is an ass for allowing something they have outlawed!

    I agree we often get it wrong, but then don’t allow a ref to penalise whoever he wants because he missed something!

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.12.09 12:01:29 by Baldrick Reply

    BaldrickCurrie Cup player
  • @Baldrick (Comment 3) :

    On the placing.

    Have a look at how the NZ’landers place emphasis on placing the ball correctly and effectively at rucks and how their players do not drive over the ball or tackled player but how they protect him.

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.12.09 12:09:45 by Morné Reply
    MornéTeam captain
  • @Morné (Comment 4) : Didn’t help them win the Tri Nations or a Super 14 title this year did it?

    Fact is, it’s not so much about protecting your own possession as limiting the opposition’s possession.

    The Sharks were winning S14 games with 30 or 40% possession early in the season. This proved unsustainable and other reasons for their failures, but to beat the likes of the Chiefs, Blues and Force away from home using that tactic, showed that the game was being won by the team with the best defence, not attack.

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.12.09 13:19:12 by Baldrick Reply

    BaldrickCurrie Cup player
  • wow… it’s gonna take me DAYS to read all of this :)

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.12.09 15:35:50 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach

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