Two law changes/interpretaions have me fuming!
1. The new breakdown interpretations being applied by referees, and
2. The tackle law
Let’s deal with the breakdown first.
Maybe it’s just me, but the new focus by referees on the breakdown is ruining rugby as a spectacle. I can appreciate that the thinking was that it would speed up the game, but the opposite has now happened. The attacking team is more often than not penalised for sealing off and all the momentum is lost. This is what happened to the Sharks on Friday night. They also did themselves no favours with their naive play at the breakdown if one is totally honest.
I watched the majority of the games this past weekend and the Crusaders vs Blues was probably the standout, but the breakdown penalties did their job in ruining the games as spectacles.
Now for the tackle law.
This law was also designed to speed up play, with the tackler having to release the ball carrier once he has tackled him. That part I agree with, but the following are causing me serious headaches:
1. A player is brought to ground by the tackler and is released and then promptly gets up and carries on playing. The referee will sometimes allow play to continue. This is blatantly unfair as the tackler brought him to ground and then let him go as per the law.
2. A tackler attempts to bring a ball carrier down but succeeds in tripping him up, not actually holding him. The ‘tackled’ player is entitled to get up and run and does so and is then penalised. How is this fair when he was never held?
3. The tackle assist!!! I can’t remember which game it was, possibly the Lions vs Cheetahs, but the defending team held up the ball carrier and prevented him from going to ground, despite his best attempts. A maul we’d all say, correct? Oh no, the referee penalised the tackle assist for not releasing, this as I was applauding the defender for keeping the ball carrier off the ground and winning possession for his team.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I think the higher ups at SANZAR and the IRB should test these rules out in lower competitions before implementing them in such major competitions. Let’s hope the referees relax a little bit around the breakdowns and we see some of the running rugby we love so much.Tweet