Desperately seeking a ruck solution
My favourite rugby joke: Hooker shouts out secret code: "Fifty six, thirty three, ninety two, eleven." Second row looks up and says: "Oh no, not me again!"
But that's a diversion and this is your blog - what should become of the ruck in rugby?
I am writing this after watching Edinburgh beat the men in pink from Paris - I will never be part of a semi naked calendar for very obvious reasons - and Glasgow's loss to Biarritz.
And the same question keeps popping up in my head: what on earth do we do with the ruck?
Here's what happens nowadays: A man carrying the ball is tackled and there are two people on the ground. A third person arrives and if he is from the defending side then he goes for the ball with his hands. If the fourth person is from the attacking side then he tries to blast the defender with his hands on the ball as hard as he can. Or he tries to twist him to get him "off his feet".
Luckily in Scotland we have always had players who are good in this situation and the latest incarnations of the scavenging Scottish forward blood lines are all over European rugby from John Barclay to Roddy Grant.
And if it's slow-ish ball for the attacking side we have scrum-halves who are expert at popping the ball to three "muckle" forwards who try to barge forward. And we start again.
I am just not sure that this is good for rugby, but I may be wrong. The game slows down and it all becomes a bit predictable.
There are options. You could restrict players from entering the ruck beyond one attacker and one tackler and leave it as a battle between those two.
Or allow much more robust footwork to dislodge defenders. Or insist, as some do, that if the ball is visible then it's fair game for anyone.
Damian Hopley of the players' union has said that rugby's injuries are on the increase. Nearly a half of all injuries in rugby come from the tackle, and what do tackles make? That's right, they turn into rucks.
Maybe there is nothing wrong with the way rucks work as they stand. Maybe we just accept that rugby men will get bigger and bigger and careers will become shorter and shorter as we allow lumps of meat around twenty stone to launch into each other at breakdowns.
Maybe we just accept that rugby will become more and more about going through people rather than round them.
But, if that's the case, I'd be sad. I'd like to keep rugby more mobile. Do we take two men off the pitch? Do we increase pitch sizes? Or would changing the ruck situation be enough?
I wish I had the answer to this one, but the new ruck could include more active use of the feet, no offside line as soon as someone puts a hand on the ball from the attacking team, and willingness from the players.
But you lot might just have the answer...