KSA Shark ©

You’ve seen them, Do you want them?

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Original Content on 22 Apr 2008 at 17:50
Tagged with :

Sharksworld newby Dancing Bear has written a piece airing his thoughts on the ELV’s and their effect on the game as we know it today. Now that you’ve seen the ELV’s in action during the S14 for a while. How do you feel about it?

There is very little argument that the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) as implemented partially in the Super 14 and the full implementation in the Vodacom Cup have changed the game of Rugby Union in some way. Some will feel that any change to this great game that we all love will diminish the game, while others will feel that the game should continue to evolve, and in their opinion improve. Consequently there are some that will feel the ELVs change the game and in their opinion any change is bad, while others will look to the ELVs and try to determine if the change is a positive one for Rugby Union.

Personally, I believe that if both teams play positively to the ELVs, in other words, don’t take advantage of the fact it is only a short arm to slow down opposition ball. If both teams play positively within the laws, the occasional transgression, usually resulting from a physical error (dropping one knee when playing a ball after the tackle, etc), and punished by a short arm, would keep the game flowing. Where I get frustrated with the ELVs is when one team chooses to play negative rugby and is only penalized with a short arm, and they take advantage of that. Then the referee is forced to give penalties or other forms of penalty (yellow and red cards) to one team while the other team “appears” to be favoured, even if that is not the case. This is when the ELVs become ridiculous in my mind; it is no longer a fair contest because each team is being given different punishment for the same transgression, even if that team brought it on themselves. The problem is it turns the game into a spectacle and not a game of rugby, which is what happened unfortunately in the second half of the Sharks game.

I thoroughly enjoy the flowing nature of the game under the ELVs when both teams are playing positively. It is nothing like League in my opinion, which I find to be like Gridiron, very stop/start. If anything, I believe the ELVs when played to positively cause the game to be more flowing, exciting, and still competitive at the breakdown, which in my opinion are all positive features of Union.

Based on this I feel that the only change to the ELVs (as they are implemented in the Super 14) should be how the referees handle a team choosing to not play positive rugby. In this case, the referee should warn both captains that any further action by EITHER TEAM that transgresses the law at the breakdown will be punished by penalty. Then if needed he would do the same thing for yellow cards. This way the offending team would have to think twice about playing slow down rugby, because of the harsh penalty, and the positive team would keep playing knowing they were rarely transgressing anyway. I am not saying this would make teams play more positively necessarily, however, it would be a fair way to handle the situation, and the deserving team would be penalized more anyway and would end up losing by giving up points to kicks.

As for the full implementation of the ELVs, I don’t think I like the idea of letting teams pull down the maul, and therefore also don’t like the idea of allowing truck and trailer from the maul. All that will do will change mauling technique into something much looser and, in my opinion uglier. It results in a team setting up a maul, breaking away with a truck and trailer, setting up another maul from that, and then same thing again. I don’t like that, I prefer the feature of the strong team effort making a maul successful with cohesive movement, strong binding, and good body position.

I also don’t like the idea of not matching numbers in the lineout, I just don’t see how this is going to change the game positively in any way. It just seems rather silly to me as it will have very little effect on the game in my opinion. It might take some of the advantage from a team defending their goal line and throwing in.

I don’t believe the ELVs have taken away from strong scrumming teams, in fact, teams can still take advantage of this, and with the 5 meter rule, is even more of an attacking platform now for strong scrumming team. I believe that with a strong scrum and an attacking 5 meter scrum, the attacking team should score almost all the time. Just like the Bulls scored against the Hurricanes, just wheel the scrum to the favored side,
8 man pickup and drive at the 10, always a better match up for the 8.
With the other loosies having to stay bound, they are taken out of it as well.

I like the new kicking out of the 22 law. It just makes teams think a little more, and promotes a more attacking mindset. It also encourages tactical kicking without going into touch. A strong tactical kicking team can definitely take advantage of this and will keep a team less savvy in tactical kicking, pinned in their own half all day long. This too is something that makes Rugby Union, Rugby Union.

Generally I think that the ELVs (bar the maul collapsing, truck and trailer, and lineouts) have enhanced the features of Rugby Union that make the sport unique. In other words, they have made the game flow more, they have made the game more competitive at the tackle, they have made the scrum an even more attacking platform, and they have enhanced the positive effect of good tactical kicking. These are all features unique and wonderful in the sport we all love, and they play in heaven.
Perhaps the only unique feature of Rugby Union that has taken a bit of a beating with the ELVs are the lineouts in that there are less of them during the game, but if you leave the lineout laws alone, and leave the mauling laws alone, the lineouts are still an excellent attacking platform.

Sharksworld Note: Thanks to DB for letting us use this piece.


  • nice piece, DB…

    I agree with you just about 100%… I really like the ELV’s, but am worried about how much MORE subjectivity is required on the part of the ref. If you have good refs who have a good feel for the game, then everything flows fine. Problem is, there just aren’t enough of those guys. You cannot be pedantic when blowing under these new laws… so much is subject to interpretation.

  • Comment 1, posted at 22.04.08 17:54:13 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • RobD, agree that pedantic referees ruin the game, but I believe they will ruin the game whether played under the ELVs or the old laws.

    KSA…….NEWBY????????? 😆

    One suggestion I have heard which might work as well is that before going to long arm penalties for both teams, the referee could call the captains together and inform them that any further transgression at the breakdown will result in long arm in your own half and a short arm in the oppositions half. This is not quite as Draconian, and may be enough to convince a team that is slowing the ball down to play more positively.

    I believe that if the referee makes changes for both teams, then that takes some of the subjectivity away.

  • Comment 2, posted at 22.04.08 17:58:59 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • I’m off… look forward to discussing this further later on

  • Comment 3, posted at 22.04.08 18:05:40 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • DB agree with alot of what you say and there do appear to be certain rules which are positive in the sense that they allow for more time with the ball actually in play.

    I do think tho that some of the rules can be tweaked, the yellow card 10min rule simply destroys sides under the ELV’s. Its not so much the scoring during this period, but the toll it takes on the side in the 2nd half. Lawrence gave the sharks, not 1 but 2 of these cards, no team can compete with that…and for what? not supporting your own weight…crazy stuff, i dont blame dick muir for being livid about this.

    i can understand a ref missing a forward pass or even gettting the breakdown slightly wrong, but i cannot fathom 2 yellow cards for such grey transgressions, i really cannot. It ruins the contest and is no longer fair. If they want to get the player off the field at least allow that player to be subbed and keep it a 15-man game.

  • Comment 4, posted at 22.04.08 18:46:12 by cab Reply

  • cab, very good points. I agree with you that the yellow cards in the Sharks game were questionable, and my problem is that the Sharks were yellow carded for the same offense the Brumbies were getting short arm penalties for. That is why I suggest that even when going to greater penalty, the referee do this for both teams not just for the team that offended the most.

    Let me ask this question cab. Assuming the yellow cards were truly deserved by the Sharks. Would a 10 minute sin bin still be appropriate, or do you think that sin bin times should be changed in general? Thanks for the comments, good stuff.

  • Comment 5, posted at 22.04.08 19:09:20 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • I want to make it clear to everyone that I was as frustrated with the refereeing on Saturday as any other Sharks supporter. I also hate to complain about referees, they do have a difficult job, so when I wrote this article, I didn’t want to go too much into the nuances of certain referees, or the fact that there is so much inconsistency. I suppose that is for another article. Although the timing of this article may be good because of Saturday’s game, these are all thoughts I have been having regarding the ELVs for the entire season, so my comments were not driven by the match on Saturday.

  • Comment 6, posted at 22.04.08 19:11:39 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • Don’t like the ELV’s at all! Was excited about them in the begining but am now bored of them and the games in the NH are more exciting at times. Look at Bath v Wasps or Sarries v Ospreys or the last 2 games of Cardiff v Llanelli! Best bloody rugby EVER! (Ok except for the STormers v Canes for other reasosn!) 😀 😈

  • Comment 7, posted at 22.04.08 22:32:38 by JT Reply

  • I am in the some good, some bad, camp on this.

  • Comment 8, posted at 23.04.08 07:53:45 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Fence sitter 🙂

  • Comment 9, posted at 23.04.08 08:21:42 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • I like the rules, they certainly have made for a more attractive game. If they choose not implement them fully, at the very least the 5 metre rule for scrums should be incorporated.

    My only concern is that negativity only gets a short arm, a warning and then a yellow.

  • Comment 10, posted at 23.04.08 08:22:57 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • 😆 Rob

    I will wade into the discussion later. Once I have time to sit down and type PA style comments. 😉

    In a nutshell if i had to choose between leave it the way it was or change it to the way it is now. I would leave it the way it was.

  • Comment 11, posted at 23.04.08 08:26:09 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Sauce ❓

    My only concern is that negativity only gets a short arm, a warning and then a yellow.

    That’s an interesting view, can you ellaborate on it though? I am not sure I completely understand.

  • Comment 12, posted at 23.04.08 08:27:46 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • KSA – basically what i am getting at, is you can slow the ball down, repeatedly and get a couple of short arms against your team – this used to have a three point penalty – making it a ‘don’t let the ref catch you in your own half or as a last measure to stop a 5 pointer’ kind of offense.

    And when you have been given your a couple of short arms, you get warned and then carded, ie unlike the old rules where you gave points away for being negative at the breakdown – these days you can get away with it for 60% of a game before you start getting punished for playing a negative game.

    Essentially there is no deterrence to being negative until you get carded.

  • Comment 13, posted at 23.04.08 08:44:02 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • On other thing for the article i do agree with is the kicking out of the 22 laws – its a great law.

  • Comment 14, posted at 23.04.08 08:55:44 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • Think we should take the reffering in the S14 (their aint another word then kak to describe them) apart from the ELVs. Myself dont like them one bit and felt at the start like the NH lot about them. After watching some Vodacup, Varsity Cup and some schoolboy games I sort of change my view. Apart from the rucking (I love the old school boot rucking) it really make up for much quicker rugby. Now I am glad Saru change all our levels to them and am pretty sure it will benefit SA Rugby no end. We wiil reap the rewards starting against Wales because the players need to think differently towards the game.

  • Comment 15, posted at 23.04.08 09:32:53 by PaarlBok Reply

  • I’m enjoying most of the elv’s…. where the game ( and the reffing ) remains most contentious is from where a player is tackled and a ruck forms… almost every call a ref makes here is seen as subjective, a 50/50 call that could’ve gone either way…. did the tackled player release the ball, or was he prevented from doing so, did the tackler roll away, or was he prevented from rolling away, was the next player on his feet when he played the ball or was that playing the ball on the ground… it just goes on and on, six spectators tell you the ref got it right, six tell you he got it wrong. Like Paarlbok i’d like to see an all out anything goes battle for possession in the rucks (except dirty play and offsides) with the side taking the ball in losing possession if they cant produce it promptly ( 10 seconds ), a free kick or scrum to follow

  • Comment 16, posted at 23.04.08 09:57:58 by spykerbaard Reply

  • Well, the ELV’s have speeded up the game no doubt. The guys now have to be at peak fitness. And ultimately that’s what people want from the top professionals in the game. The days of having pie-tuckers propping up the scrums is gone the way of the dinosaurs. Union is moving towards League in its demand for pure athletes, and i for one have a lot more respect for the players that can play in this ELV environment and thrive.

  • Comment 17, posted at 23.04.08 10:01:43 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • Okay Sauce i agree with what you are saying and I have said the same thing a few times.

    You can “play” nicely with the laws and if you are carefull as to when you push the boundaries you can go a whole match with playing cynically and NOT give away any points while doing it.

  • Comment 18, posted at 23.04.08 10:05:42 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Don’t like ELV’s. We Want Rugby! We Want Rugby!

    On the bright side, could the Bulls be struggling with them?

  • Comment 19, posted at 23.04.08 10:38:16 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • I don’t think the Bulls problem is the ELV’s. Their problem is all in the head.

    And i don’t mean head COACH. I mean they need a HEAD coach.


  • Comment 20, posted at 23.04.08 10:48:31 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • 5 m scrum rule – pass with distinction
    kick out of 22 – pass
    short arm penalty ( going subjectively to harsher penalties depending on the refs PMS level ) – miserable failure
    linout rules – condoned pass ( who cares ? )


  • Comment 21, posted at 23.04.08 11:04:37 by yossarian Reply

  • One area where it does affect the Bulls is that liefling-goed can’t kick them out of trouble if the scrum/lineout is just outside there 22.

  • Comment 22, posted at 23.04.08 11:12:18 by Cru-El (BABVA) Reply

  • You can change the laws of the game to that of Chinese Downhill Doughnut Rolling it will not change one of the fundamental problems we sit with in rugby, and that is inconsistency in application of the law.

    There are two sides to this however.

    It is virtually impossible to ask or expect a referee to make decisions consistently just through the sheer dynamics of the game. Take a ruck or tackle situation for instance.

    There is about 15 laws that need to be applied to between 3 and 8 people on average in a matter of seconds. And a ref has to do this an average of 150 times in a match (average ruck count)! Add to the fact that every single ruck is different, involving different players, off different phases (i.e. different momentum) and in different places on the field (danger zones and no danger zones) and it becomes easy to see it is impossible to expect consistency.

    What I do however have against referees, or the idiots that put them in charge, is that they are given freedom to ‘interpret’ laws as they see fit. Interpret my ass, it is just an excuse to save their own asses if the make mistakes and don’t you dare question that.

    How was Lawrence saying the other day following the Sharks match that he told both teams how he was going to ref certain areas and what he expected from them? Dude, I don’t give a toss what you want, I am playing the game to the laws as laid down by the IRB, not you, and you should apply them as laid down by the IRB, not your own warped version!

    Further, as someone else mentioned laws are basically written to make it impossible to ref or apply on a consistent basis. It is almost a case of the laws being written by people that has never played the game.

    For my money, more responsibility should be given to the players to ease the job on the referee. Meaning shortly, much harsher penalties for typical offenses but also simplifying the laws somewhat. As an example, bring rucking back, but illegal rucking, like foul play, an immediate red with a 2 match suspension. Gets rid of that irritating ‘tackler roll away’ and ‘hands off’ I hear every singly bloody game.

    But essentially, get rid of prats like Bryce who through his comment, obviously believes he is untouchable.

  • Comment 23, posted at 23.04.08 11:20:13 by MorneN Reply
  • scrum – the extra breathing space is welcome…

    backward lineout – it does help speed up the game and gives advantage to the attacking team (I guess that was the objective)

    corner poles – 🙄

    sick of the FK’s and scrums…BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY (Oi! Wrong website) 😯

  • Comment 24, posted at 23.04.08 11:43:12 by blackshark (JAWS) Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • #24 😆

  • Comment 25, posted at 23.04.08 14:58:06 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • :mrgreen: How did i miss #24. 😆

  • Comment 26, posted at 23.04.08 15:01:37 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • I think they actually got the corner flag law correct now. It was ridiculous that touch was defined as the line on the ground for the entire field, but all of a sudden at the goal line it jumps up in the air at the corner flag.

  • Comment 27, posted at 24.04.08 06:14:55 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • 😯 What are you doing up at this time of the morning.

  • Comment 28, posted at 24.04.08 06:30:09 by KSA Shark © (FJ!ELN!) Reply

    KSA Shark ©

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