Morné

It’s only cheating if you’re caught


Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, Springboks, Tri Nations, Wallabies on 19 Aug 2010 at 10:20
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My first sales manager always used to tell me; ‘Don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions’.

With all the bitching in recent weeks and column upon column of views regarding the ‘favouritism’ the All Blacks enjoy at the expense of the Springboks and Wallabies I was again reminded of that very important line I learned as a 19-year old.

South Africans of course have been the most vocal but that is to be expected when you sit on the bottom of the log without a single point, but there has also been murmurs from Australia and New Zealand that there might just be an issue at hand here which needs to be dealt with.

The issue, or problem of course, is the perceived belief that the All Blacks cheat.

Well let me not beat around the bush with the issue, the All Blacks do break the rules but from where I sit the fact that they do not get caught says a lot more about the Springboks and Wallabies than it does about the All Blacks.

The controversial area I am referring to is mainly the ruck so let’s deal with what they do there first.

In the last couple of years the focus of referees and the media, and even spectators have been around one player, or one position – the fetcher. The obsession with this player has reached astronomical proportions infamously making its most controversial appearance first with Jake White and his quote and belief on what fetchers does for him in his team every Sunday.

Since then enough column inches to go to the moon and back has been spent on the issue and the player, from George Smith, Richie McCaw, Heinrich Brussow, Pocock, Louw and many, many more and their role and their ‘importance’ in the game of rugby.

They are usually labelled as ‘cheats’ or the guys that push the letter of the law the furthest.

The effect of this was immediate. In recent years we had law changes, law variations and the flavour of the month now is law interpretations… All basically focused on the same thing and largely focused on one specific area, the ruck or tackled ball situation, the domain of the animal they call the ‘fetcher’.

Since it became fashionable to focus on these players it also became very easy to base all problems, or perceived strengths and weaknesses on these players. The recent rumblings being no different in my view.

Now to come back to the All Blacks and cheating.

Breaking the laws is wrong, there is no question about it, but for my money, you can only be called a cheat if you get caught.

Personally after studying all the games in the Tri-Nations this year so far, I came to the conclusion that the All Blacks are not cheats, in fact, I think they are bloody clever!

Before I explain let me share a secret with you…

Any coach or management team worth their salt spend hours and hours studying the laws, the current trend with the application in the laws, their own team, the opposition and also (believe it or not) the referee.

Now if you believe this is done only to identify strengths and weaknesses in opposing teams and players you are living in cuckoo land… Any possible advantage that can be found in the laws, law interpretations and trends in application are also identified.

Let me give you an example. The All Blacks knew Craig Joubert, one of the top referees in the Super 14, awards 80% of penalties at the ruck against the defending teams. They therefore knew that Craig’s focus is 80% on the defending team and more importantly, the defending fetcher or players who play directly to the ball to steal it, or slow it down.

In other words current trends in law application is placed directly on the ball and players directly on the ball at rucks or tackled situations. Just think to how referees want to see this ‘daylight’ from tacklers, have to make call on tacklers and arriving players etc., etc.

The All Blacks identified this in Craig (and most referees as this is an international trend in law application) and came up with a plan, the plan was quite simple – gain an advantage, even if a bit unfair, or against the laws in areas around, or away from this point of focus to benefit ourselves. How or what did they do? Well quite simply they tasked specific players at the ruck or tackled situation to disrupt, obstruct and generally spoil opposition players away from the focus point (the ball) to gain an advantage. They identified by clearing players a meter or so further than what they normally would, or a meter or more away from the ball than they usually would, they gained a clear advantage in disrupting defensive structures, momentum and lines of opposition teams… Genius!

They identified that by gaining an advantage at a crucial part of the game, the ruck, where it is unlikely they will get penalised because it is seldom seen given the current trends and focus, and you know what, bloody good on them!

This now leaves us with my opening line and ‘problem’ for South Africa and Australia…

Well first off there is no point in bitching about a team or coach if they managed to identify something to benefit them before you did. It says more about you than it says about them.

Also, you are mainly left with two options, or solutions…

Either you try and beat them at their own game or devise methods to counter this or even beat them (yes Peter at times you do coach players to cheat!), or you make the whole world (most importantly the IRB) aware of exactly what is happening and put pressure on them to ensure that the area you feel ‘cheated’ on is better policed!

You see, you are actually only a cheat if you get caught…



38 Comments

  • Fantastic article Morne.. thanx for that!

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, I reckon we should complain less and figure out a way of also pushing the boundary and playing to the ref in the game..

    Its no surprise who the ref is going to be, so do some research and play him..

  • Comment 1, posted at 19.08.10 10:28:15 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Thanks Morne it a great artical longgggggggggggggg but great :mrgreen:

  • Comment 2, posted at 19.08.10 10:45:05 by chaz Reply

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  • I used to tell my gf this too. :lol:

    Quite right; like it or not, the idea is to push the boundaries as far as possible, and we have failed to. I have question-marks over Gold’s ability to do so in particular.

    The fact that we keep singling out Richie is a worrying indication that we may not understand the situation: they are ruling the breakdown via a team effort.

    That’s pretty much what White, rightly, pointed out – fetchers don’t win you ball: team efforts do. The fetcher is often just a guy suited and assigned to getting his hands on the ball.

    But just as important are the guys suited and assigned to rucking and clearing, for example. Guys like Beast, Botha and Smit are masters at this.

    Good read: send to the FNB stadium.

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.08.10 11:07:52 by Big Fish Reply
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  • Great article. No one should blame the AB’s for cheating or accuse them of cheating. The ref is responsible to ensure all laws are adhered to during the match. Which they failed to do. Still think SARU rightly highlighted the poor refereeing, at 1 ruck, Richie might as well have had a bok jersey on from where he was entering.

  • Comment 4, posted at 19.08.10 11:15:13 by frikkie se broer Reply

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  • @frikkie se broer (Comment 4) : welcome to the site… but who is Frikkie? :)

  • Comment 5, posted at 19.08.10 11:16:42 by robdylan Reply
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  • Great read as always Morne…..and all very true.

  • Comment 6, posted at 19.08.10 11:34:39 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Well done Morne.

    I’ve been saying it for ages. you play to the ref, if he lets things go then you do those things, if he doesn’t then you don’t.

    What is difficult about that? Okay well maybe the Bulls players can’t fathom that, but there are a lot of WP and other province’s players there.

  • Comment 7, posted at 19.08.10 11:59:37 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @frikkie se broer (Comment 4) :

    Frikkie Welsh’s broer?

  • Comment 8, posted at 19.08.10 12:02:27 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Too good a article not to get some airtime… BUMP

  • Comment 9, posted at 19.08.10 12:33:39 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 9) :

    must be lunch time or something. ;)

  • Comment 10, posted at 19.08.10 12:41:33 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 8) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 11, posted at 19.08.10 12:43:16 by Charlie Reply

    CharlieSuper Rugby player
     
  • No – I think people are just more into SB and LMS on this site.

  • Comment 12, posted at 19.08.10 13:02:50 by Big Fish Reply
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  • @Big Fish (Comment 9) : I agree BF but Morne’s articles are so well planned and thought out that he covers all angles and doesn’t really leave much for discussion. If I comment any further on this article I would just repeat what has already been said.

  • Comment 13, posted at 19.08.10 13:09:34 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Next year’s Tri Nations starts on July 23 and end on August 27 and will be reduced to 6 games only as the World Cup starts on September 9th, which is only 2 weeks later :cool:

  • Comment 14, posted at 19.08.10 13:17:20 by Jarson Reply
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  • @Jarson (Comment 14) : Full shedule has been released. Aus and NZ will play in the final fixture. I can see an excuse as to why they couldn’t win the WC allready :grin:

  • Comment 15, posted at 19.08.10 13:20:27 by Jarson Reply
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  • @Jarson (Comment 14) : Where can I find the Schedule?

    I KNOW there is a Dbn test but want to see the date.

  • Comment 16, posted at 19.08.10 13:23:51 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 16) : Got it from SS

  • Comment 17, posted at 19.08.10 13:33:46 by Jarson Reply
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  • @Jarson (Comment 17) : thanks

  • Comment 18, posted at 19.08.10 13:35:47 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • @Jarson (Comment 14) :

    Get the schedule up i want to see the venues…now i’m a NZer again !

  • Comment 19, posted at 19.08.10 13:35:52 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Jarson (Comment 17) :

    That may be a little late for me to be at home. :(

    Saturday, July 23: Australia v South Africa, Sydney
    Saturday, July 30: New Zealand v South Africa, Wellington
    Saturday, August 6: New Zealand v Australia, Auckland
    Saturday, August 13: South Africa v Australia, Durban (TBC)
    Saturday, August 20: South Africa v New Zealand, PE (TBC)
    Saturday, August 27: Australia v New Zealand, Brisbane

  • Comment 20, posted at 19.08.10 13:37:20 by KSA Shark © Reply

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  • Good read …… Morne.

    I think the problem is further highlighted when the Boks don’t play an openside.

    Boks have seemed off the pace at Ruck Time.

    Will they be any better introducing a new blindside on Saturday when a new openside is required.

    Why don’t you guys play a genuine openside and be done with it

    ….it must be a cunning plan ! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 21, posted at 19.08.10 13:39:25 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • His poor poor wife….

  • Comment 22, posted at 19.08.10 13:59:29 by Uli Reply
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  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 20) :

    Im sure as hell going to be at this test.. That’s if Im in South Africa still..

  • Comment 23, posted at 19.08.10 14:16:59 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • Morne, I have to disagree with your comment: “the All Blacks do break the rules but from where I sit the fact that they do not get caught”

    The stats back up the conspiracy theory – the All Blacks got penalised more than the others per yellow. They were cheating, getting caught and getting a slap on the wrist for it.

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but the facts of the matter speak volumes and certainly do seem to back up calls of favouritism.

  • Comment 24, posted at 19.08.10 14:17:07 by Baldrick Reply

    BaldrickCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Baldrick (Comment 24) : Otherwise the article is spot on.

    The new application of the laws was designed around trying to allow teams to use quick ball from the breakdown area, ie, trying to permit/encourage quick attack ball while being harsh on the defender.

    This is a change from last year where the tacklers had more rights at the breakdown.

    Just as the ABs value quick attack balls, so they understand the necessity to slow down opposition ball. This they do effectively and very subtley (and sometimes not).

    They wait until they get a final warning, sometimes two final warnings and then back off. SA play dumb rugby and keep at it when the ref has warned them.

    Playing smart rugby is beating physical rugby.

  • Comment 25, posted at 19.08.10 14:22:55 by Baldrick Reply

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  • @Baldrick (Comment 24) :

    You and ‘Barbed Wire’….should do lunch !

  • Comment 26, posted at 19.08.10 14:23:25 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 23) :

    Second Division Rugby awaits you Punter !

  • Comment 27, posted at 19.08.10 14:24:12 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 27) :

    I don’t quite understand?

  • Comment 28, posted at 19.08.10 14:30:57 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 28) :

    Meaning when you shift to Dunedin you will be watching Otago play in the second division.

    ….how weird will that be when they then will play Super 15 !

  • Comment 29, posted at 19.08.10 14:49:50 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 29) :

    Oh right.. My mind is on other things today..

    Thats like the Lions if they had to shift to second division Currie Cup, yet still play Super 15.. very weird..

  • Comment 30, posted at 19.08.10 14:55:24 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 30) :

    Our Franchise includes our little brother Southland who are currently top ….. so looks like they will have the entire squad ! :roll:

  • Comment 31, posted at 19.08.10 15:03:25 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 26) : Huh? Didn’t Pammie Anderson star in Barbed Wire?

  • Comment 32, posted at 19.08.10 15:03:53 by Baldrick Reply

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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 31) :

    Hope you guys manage to put a decent team together for next year..

  • Comment 33, posted at 19.08.10 15:06:27 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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  • @Baldrick (Comment 32) :

    She sure did …..quality.

    Sorry i meant Bob Dwyer ! ;-)

  • Comment 34, posted at 19.08.10 15:08:00 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 33) :

    We will need to be very active in the draft system !

  • Comment 35, posted at 19.08.10 15:08:44 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 34) : Haha, very clever. Look, when I saw those figures of penalties per yellow card issued I was quite horrrified.

    However, what wasn’t taken into account was what the penalties were issued for. Foul play by SA mostly. I recall BJ Botha was carded for slowing the ball down against OZ when Richard Brown had done similar, but worse earlier in the game for minimal sanction.

  • Comment 36, posted at 19.08.10 15:10:52 by Baldrick Reply

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  • I am not sure calling McCaw a cheat or one waiting to be caught is correct.

    Richie deserves a lot more respect than i think he is being given at the moment.

    Bakkies Bitha is a cheating thug.

    Richie McCaw is a quality player who understands the rules.

    Big difference.

  • Comment 37, posted at 19.08.10 15:12:07 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
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  • Yes very true article, but… It doesnt address the ref blowing differently for opposing sides in the same game. Eg. No warnings for boks but many warnings for AB.

  • Comment 38, posted at 19.08.10 19:15:40 by Rahul Reply

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