André Watson, South Africa’s refereeing boss, has produced some figures and comments about the ‘shape of the game’ in view of the law changes and particular areas of focus this year.
The areas of focus have been the Big Four – the scrums, the tackle and the obligation of the tackler to release the tackled player and get out of the way, obstruction, especially at line-outs and kick-offs, and offside after kicks.
Watson’s figures suggest a more attractive game – which may or may not be a better a game, unless one first determines the game priorities – players or spectators – who comes first. There is no doubt that at the ‘elite’ level spectators in all their forms are probably a priority, especially in Australia where the game struggles against Aussie Rules, Rugby League and soccer for spectators and hence revenue.
One of the blights on the game, making it less pleasant to play and a lot less pleasant to watch has been the resetting of the scrum. There was also lots of criticism on the amount of kicking last year, some of it attributed to the slow production of ball from the tackle, some to offside by chasers which made counterattack less attractive.
Watson has the following figures for the Super 14 in 2009 and then in 2010, each after 10 rounds and 63 matches:
2009: 353; average 5,36 [per match
2010: 262; average 4,15 per match
That is an improvement of 25%
Kicks in general play
2009: 4 128; average 64,50
2010: 2 977; average 47,25
That is 28% fewer kicks.
Penalties at the breakdown
2009: 1 088; average 17
2010: 863; average 13.7
There is a drop of 20% in the number of penalties at the breakdown.
Penalties at scrums
2009: 285; average 4,45
2010: 277; average 4,4
There is no great difference.
Total penalties and free kicks
2009: 1 696; average 26,5
2010: 1 419; average 22.52
There has been a drop of 16% in the number of penalties and free kicks.
2009: 334; average of 5,21 tries per match
2010: 359; average of 5,69 tries per match
There have been 9% more tries scored in 2010.
Watson makes the following comments
a. Though the number of resets is 25% down, there is little change in scrum sanctions
b. It would be fair to say that the penalties/freekicks/at scrum are now more accurate
c. The responsibility has shifted to the players to take ownership of legal scrums.
Kicks in general play
a. There is 28% less kicking. Is less kicking out of hand better or worse?
b. Certainly the enforced kicking (because of offside players advancing) is far less than last year.
c. More space is created for players who catch kicks as the ‘offside’ players are kept back with 2010’s application.
Penalties at the breakdown (Tackle/Ruck/Maul)
a. It is down by 20% even though the tackler is being sanctioned with almost zero tolerance.
b. Is the game faster? Yes.
c. Is the attacking team allowed more than the defending team? Is it still a fair contest at breakdown? These are fair questions which need to be answered.
Total penalties and free kicks.
a. These are down 16% despite the initial fears of more penalties at the beginning of the season.
There has been an increase of 9% even though people initially thought that penalty kicks at goal would increase with an increased number of penalties.
Article courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet