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John Beattie

Five-a-side rugby anyone? (51)

Honesty is the best thing I think. You see, the editor of the blog wants us all to pick our team of the tournament.

But I don’t want to. I want to talk about how rugby needs to get its act together. From a rugby point of view, this has been the worst ever world cup.

I was sitting in the Stade de France, salivating at the prospect of the final and hoping for an open game of flowing rugby. Tries, as my co-commentator Bill Johnstone always says, are the coinage of the game.

And although Mark Cueto, for England, came close it is all too apparent that this world cup has been dominated by what the French call the coup de pied.

It all started with the Argentineans. They had been training with the Miami Dolphins, but they booted the ball up in the air in that first game of the world cup, and when they beat France they charted a “coup de pied” course for the rest of the tournament. Everyone copied what they had done and a kicking game was seen as the way to bread down defences.

So I am sad. The world cup was superb in its intrigue, Portugal and England provided the upsets, but our great game needs freed up to include more action.

I don’t like rugby when it is dominated by tactical keeping. Or as we used to call it up and unders.

So, what to do? Take the wing forwards off the pitch and reduce teams to thirteen a side? Move defences back by five yards.

Well, I actually believe that with rugby pitches staying the same size for a hundred years while players are bigger and fitter and faster there is an obvious answer.

Sorry, but there are too many players on the pitch nowadays.

John Beattie is a former Scotland international who hosts radio and TV programmes for BBC Scotland.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:54 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • John Calver wrote:

That's just not how rugby gets played these days. Sounds like you're just harking back to the days you remember when defences were weak, are you going to suggest that next? 'No training for defensive work' It would create more tries! Yes thats right ridiculous as is the idea of taking away two players. There is still more scoring than there is in football but you don't see football making the goals bigger!

  • 2.
  • At 11:25 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • RS wrote:

i bet the success of 20/20 version of cricket inspired you to say that, not anything else.

  • 3.
  • At 11:28 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Steffy wrote:

13 a side rugby? I have been watching 13 a side rugby for years.

  • 4.
  • At 11:31 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • DAVID RAMSHAW wrote:

I agree that professionalism has brought to changes to modern rugby: greatly improved athleticsm and greater tactical cohesion especially in defense.
Two law changes I would trial are:
1. players being able to call a mark anywhere in their own half. This would reduce the benefits of airial bombing.
2. Allowing players to handle to ball on the floor. This would the forwards would have to compete at the breakdown and not spread across the pitch

  • 5.
  • At 11:41 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Gary wrote:

Congratulations-you've just invented Rugby League-over a 100 years late.
I cannot accept that this has been the worst world cup ever. Far better to see less favoured nations compete, than see a mass of 100 point drubbings.
I also recall 14-man Argentina running the length of the pitch against 15 man France on Friday.
Defences are fitter and better organised than they were, and kickers are more accurate.

  • 6.
  • At 11:53 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Jez wrote:

This world cup has been good, it may not appeal to those who just want to see tries (ie the once every four years spectator) but to those who actually play the game and understand what rugby is all about it has been fascinating seeing how teams have used kicks for instance as a starting point of attack - it wasn't as if the Argentinians didn't score any tries is it?
To turn Union into League isn't the answer however there are a couple of ideas that may help.
1. reduce the value of the drop goal and penalise unsuccessful attempts. 1 point for a drop goal hardly makes it worth while and if you were penalised by having a scrum restart to the defending team from where you kicked from would focus the ability of the kicker.
2. use the 40/20 rule from league as this would keep the ball in play with more opportunity to counter attack as kickers look to set up attacking positions.
3. Reduce the points scored for a try from 5 to 4 and increase the score for a conversion from 2 to 3 points. This would make it less likely for teams to infringe near the line as a penalty would be worth almost as much as a try- it would be better to defend and look for legal turnovers.
4. Don't allow players to come back from sin-bins for certain offences but sub them after 10 minutes - this would mean that coaches would lose tactical impetus should a player commit an offense that stops a try being scored.

  • 7.
  • At 11:58 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

If you want to watch league, go and watch league, don't complain about what was actually a remarkably good RWC.

People's memories seem only to strecth back to the last couple of matches of the tournament, most which was actually played in a variety of styles and included many excellent matches and was won by the team that seemed best equiped to play in a variety of ways.

It is incredibly churlish after such a fine tournament to whine about changing the rules (again), presumably in search of some dull monotone of endless running (again why not watch league if that is what you want).

(Sorry if this is a repost the submission seems to be playing up).

  • 8.
  • At 12:03 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Bart Hulley wrote:

What a load of cobblers. The fifteen man version is a joy to watch because it is a highly tactical game.

This, and previous world cups have demonstrated that in order to become world champs you need as solid a kicking game as that of running.

So to suggest SA won by simply kicking the ball over the heads of their opponents - over simplify's their tactical approach. They kicked when they saw a strong defence - passed when they saw a weak one.

I see nothing wrong in that.

  • 9.
  • At 12:11 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • doctormatt wrote:

what nonsense
i'm sure you used to watch those tremendous games of the 1950's and 60's, played by teams whose biggest bloke was 6'2", and ending up 0-0(e.g. sco Vs NZ), or 6-3 (numerous 5 nations games in that era)
rugby, like cricket and football, is evolving continuously - at times a cricket team score of > 100 was considered good, and bowlers regularly took 200 wickets a season. dixie dean scored 60 goals in a season for everton.
rugby will keep evolving and there will be times when kicking will predominate, and times when running rugby will predominate. if you want free scoring matches, watch basketball. if you want to watch nothing but artistry, watch torvill and dean.

  • 10.
  • At 12:32 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

If you want to see free flowing rugby then watch there is something called 7's with it's own world cup and an annual tournament.

This RWC was very good, much tighter and showed that this a team game. Sides made up of outstanding individuals lost to the sides that worked as a team.

If rule changes are needed, then reduce drop goals to 1 point and any penalty within 10 yards of the try line is an automatice penalty try. That ought to force the style back towards being try orientated.

  • 11.
  • At 12:42 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • rcreff wrote:

Honestly, are you serious?? What next height and weight restrictions!?

  • 12.
  • At 12:47 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Jason Hodges wrote:

If you want to watch rugby with lots of running and passing rather than scrums and penalties then why don't you just watch rugby league rather than trying to change rugby union to be like it?

  • 13.
  • At 12:59 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Chris M wrote:

Defence is now stronger than attack. To encourage and allow more tries to be scored:
1. 7 points for a try - no conversions.
2. Objective yellow cards: 3 penalties in a row result in the player giving away the 3rd penalty a yellow card.
3. Penalties given away in the oppents half: penalty kick can be taken anywhere from the half way line.

Defences will have to abide by the rules more allowing attacks not to be stopped illegally.

  • 14.
  • At 01:00 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Ollie wrote:

Even though all the points in the final were from the boot, I thought the game itself was fantastic. Yes, there was a lot of kicking, but it wasn't just kicking to touch ALL th etime, it was kicking to space, the garryowens and chasing. So there weren't any tries?

That shouldn't be seen as an indicator of how good a game is. Yes, it's nice to seem tries, but I'd rather seeing good *rugby*. Saturday's game was definitely that.

  • 15.
  • At 01:07 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Daveymonkey wrote:

I too am sad about this world cup. But only that my side too did not win. The event itself was fantastic drama - I'm exhausted.

If we see a new tactic emerge at the world cup is it our place to find new rules to quash its effectiveness? No, of course it isn't - it's the responsibilities of the coaches and tacticians to find ways to counter it.

On the other hand, we must accept that the success of the sport depends upon its popularity with supporters. To this end we have already been tweaking the rules to allow rugby to evolve. This is no different to any other sport (e.g. football - passback rule).

In conclusion, any changes we make must not be "knee-jerk" reactions but carefully thought through modifications. Kicking out 2 players from every team is not the answer.

  • 16.
  • At 01:08 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Evan wrote:

Reduce the drop goal to 1 point and encourage teams to focus on attack rather than defence. Even though this World Cup was very good to watch, it was clear to see that the team with the best defence tended to win the match (prime examples of this were obviously the final, but also the France-NZ quarter final). Emphasising the attacking nature of the game must be a given in order to benefit the game at a later date

  • 17.
  • At 01:13 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • doctormatt wrote:

what nonsense
i'm sure you used to watch those tremendous games of the 1950's and 60's, played by teams whose biggest bloke was 6'2", and ending up 0-0(e.g. sco Vs NZ), or 6-3 (numerous 5 nations games in that era)
rugby, like cricket and football, is evolving continuously - at times a cricket team score of > 100 was considered good, and bowlers regularly took 200 wickets a season. dixie dean scored 60 goals in a season for everton.
rugby will keep evolving and there will be times when kicking will predominate, and times when running rugby will predominate. if you want free scoring matches, watch basketball. if you want to watch nothing but artistry, watch torvill and dean.

  • 18.
  • At 10:06 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • dom wrote:

The problem with the final this year was that both teams were more scared about conceding a try than they were focused on winning the game. The only way to stop teams kicking for the whole match is to either reduce the amount of points for drop goals, penalties and conversions or to always make the teams go back for lineouts from where the kicker kicked it from. Either of this rules would have stopped England and Argentina making it as far as they did and it probably would have been a New Zealand versus France final, the two best teams at the 'try first, kick second' approach

  • 19.
  • At 10:11 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • dom wrote:

The problem with the final this year was that both teams were more scared about conceding a try than they were focused on winning the game. The only way to stop teams kicking for the whole match is to either reduce the amount of points for drop goals, penalties and conversions or to always make the teams go back for lineouts from where the kicker kicked it from. Either of this rules would have stopped England and Argentina making it as far as they did and it probably would have been a New Zealand versus France final, the two best teams at the 'try first, kick second' approach

  • 20.
  • At 10:11 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • BRYAN wrote:

Our game use to be about running with the ball, has this change to kicking and defending. The balance is wrong we still want to see the forwards battle out to give the backs room to run with the ball. As the saying goes "don;t kick it! pass it! The game has changed in many ways over the years so we need to get back to where we were.

  • 21.
  • At 10:21 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • HoseyG wrote:

I agree with the John's verdict on th WC although not on his solution. There was too much kicking, not necessarily tactical kicking, just kicking for the sake of it so the ball could not be turned over. I agree with Post 4 who has a great idea of allowing marks inside your own half (and i think you should get the throw in as well) as this would encourage more tactical kicking. All these people saying if you want to watch running then watch league. What a load of rubbish. The beauty of rugby is watching the forwards doing their individual roles but also working as a pack and setting up good ball for the backs to either tactically kick or run the ball and score some tries. Sadly, the balance was out in the SF and F of the WC as there was just about all kicking - there were no set backline moves from the scrum or lineouts which is disappointing. I don't want to see a game like rugby league where the forwards and the backs do exactly the same thing which is run forward as far as they can. Rugby has it all so needs to find a better way to see the forwards being forwards and setting up their backs to do the job kicking out of defence and tactically but also giving the backs quick and space to run in tries.

  • 22.
  • At 10:24 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • HoseyG wrote:

I agree with the John's verdict on th WC although not on his solution. There was too much kicking, not necessarily tactical kicking, just kicking for the sake of it so the ball could not be turned over. I agree with Post 4 who has a great idea of allowing marks inside your own half (and i think you should get the throw in as well) as this would encourage more tactical kicking. All these people saying if you want to watch running then watch league. What a load of rubbish. The beauty of rugby is watching the forwards doing their individual roles but also working as a pack and setting up good ball for the backs to either tactically kick or run the ball and score some tries. Sadly, the balance was out in the SF and F of the WC as there was just about all kicking - there were no set backline moves from the scrum or lineouts which is disappointing. I don't want to see a game like rugby league where the forwards and the backs do exactly the same thing which is run forward as far as they can. Rugby has it all so needs to find a better way to see the forwards being forwards and setting up their backs to do the job kicking out of defence and tactically but also giving the backs quick and space to run in tries.

  • 23.
  • At 11:05 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Tim13 wrote:

Who is this Beattie bloke anyway? ;-) Sounds like a bandwagon jumper if you ask me, clearly doesnt understand much about what makes Rugby Union a great team game...

IMO we saw many different ways of playing our game, from many different countries in this RWC and that is the way it should be. That is what makes Union ultimately better than League IMO (though I admire the athletes and their skills in both codes greatly). I agree with the poster who pointed out that Beattie studiously ignores the games that dont suit his argument. Why try and make everyone play the same way? That would truly be a boring spectacle!

  • 24.
  • At 11:21 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Jim T wrote:

Leave the points and players as they are - just allow the defending team catching a kick on the full to have a mark anywhere inside their own 10 metre line. This would prevent the (rather tedious) series of bombs, up and unders, garryowens (call it what you will) that tended to dominate the latter stages of RWC 07. There's nothing wrong with 3 pts for a drop goal - there weren't that many successful attempts in the semis and final, which just show how hard a skill it is to perfect and then apply under pressure. And don't do anything about games which end up being scrummaging competitions (we tend to win those - remember the Wallabies).

  • 25.
  • At 03:42 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Ian-in-Bangkok wrote:

Here we go again. I enjoy seeing hard crunching forward play and solid frightening rucking as much as I do watching the backs playing the runs. In fact, when I watch my old videos I see the older game as being more stop start and boring than the games of today. Nine, ten, eleven phases of play and crunching tackles puts my heart under delightful pressure. (I am sure that some muppet will recommend a six tackle rule in the next weeks.)

I've not subscribed to the drop kick making a game boring, In some ways it can make it more exciting - in that any errors within field goal range can get penalised. Close matches can be won or lost up until the last minute... and often are. If we reduced the points for a drop kick I can predict more slow drives further up the pitch while the defence "feel more cosy" that they only need to defend against a try.

7 points for a try sounds like an interesting suggestion.... However, a try under the posts may need to be rewarded more highly than one spun out to the wing.

Maybe 6 points for a try and 1 for a conversion ? (brainstorming)...

...otherwise I can see more tries will drift over to the corners - meaning us fans watching 3 hours of video replays searching for "the foot of God in touch"

The overdone up and unders for territory is something less than good. And this is a good point in the article.

Players calling a mark inside their ten metre line sounds a good idea. Though making sure both feet are planted on the ground in the "new safe catch territory" before calling the mark will retain some of the pressure and tension. (But I'm sorry for the ref who has to manage this!!!) How can anyone say watching thumping tackles as Percy Montgomery comes under pressure from a high one is not enjoyable? Other than Percy's missus.

(My tongue in cheek theory is that no one would be complaining about kicking high and chase if Bill McClaren was still commentating.... "and that one looksh ash if it will come down with shnow upon it...")

The forward play in rugby is at a higher level than it has ever been before. Why penalise the forwards for this?

Nothing wrong with scrummaging.
Nothing wrong with lineouts.
Nothing wrong with rucks.
Nothing wrong with mauls.
Nothing wrong with 15 players on the turf.

My big concern is that as players get faster and bigger more players are going to get seriously seriously. I hope we don't go the American Football padding and helmet route.

  • 26.
  • At 06:38 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

reducing numbers is not the answer. Why do the rules need to change? the rules have roughly been the same for many years (only minor adjustments) and teams have worked out how to win games. They have been analyzing the games now and have figured out ways to win a game. Which is what sport is about. Winning. If the rules are changed, all teams will simply adjust their playing style to how to win games, not to produce pretty rugby. If drop goals or penatlies become less meaningful i.e they become 1 or 2 points only, then surely that would force teams to work even more on defense to ensure they are still unbreakable and are not giving away penalties, sure it also encourages teams to score tries, but that would also encourage some teams to just go even more defensive and could cause games to become a football score of 3-0.

  • 27.
  • At 07:36 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Stonethecrows wrote:

John, you are watching the wrong game. Time to toddle down to your local rugby league club.

Next thing you know you'll be whining about having uncontested scrums (which are a completely pointless exercise) but at least you will have a few supporters in Australia agreeing with you as they clearly didnt contest theirs in the Q/Final.

I've found this World Cup to be completely enthralling. 9-6 is good enough for me as I enjoy the 'simple complexities' of the game and don't need to have a basketball score to retain my interest.

  • 28.
  • At 07:50 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Stonethecrows wrote:

Oh and if you want debate about bringing in new laws, here's one about the proposed "Stellenbosch Laws" which are due for introduction in some form in 2008.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A28234235

  • 29.
  • At 09:27 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • DJ wrote:

For me the points weightings and numbers of players on the pitch are fine. Drop kicks are just as valid a bit of skill as anything else. I think bombing the full back outside his 22 is also a skill and although only a limited gameplan tactic if used over and over, can offer a route to a result for lesser teams to win out over bigger and better sides, which I'm keen to retain - so moving the Mark up to halfway would also seem a bit drastic to me. There's a very thin line between encouraging running rugby and inhibiting a perfectly valid kicking game and moving the Mark up just shades the latter for me. I think there's other things that could be looked at first (first of all, firming up a universal interpretation and application of the rules we already have before inventing any more - some games in the NH and SH are so very different in 'feel' there's something not right there). If it does come to putting a hand up for new rules though, how about the onus being on the Defender to roll away from the contact in about the same amount of time as it takes for the Attacking player to release the ball? Failure to do so resulting in a free kick to the Attacking side? (Sure there'll be rules 'bent' with the tackled players holding the tackler in to draw the foul, but the ref could blow for a pen to the Defence if he sees this). This would keep the ethos of rewarding forward momentum and stop Defences slowing the ball down with a carnage of 'accidental' bodies inside their 22, allowing the backs the time to realign the Defence, inviting the Attack to consider a pop at 3 instead of going for 5+2. Defending Players considered to be tactically offside, coming onside, 'innocently' interrupting Attacking play could also have a free kick awarded against from the Gain Line. Just musing now, but you could also look at Free Kicks that cross into touch coming back to the point they were kicked, whether they went out on the full or not - if you want to hammer the full back you can do (although probably not the wings who'd just let it go) but the invitation would be there to run it for at least 1 phase of play

  • 30.
  • At 10:09 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Stonethecrows wrote:

The proposed "Stellenbosch Laws" will come into effect in some form during 2008.

How about discussing them?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A28234235

  • 31.
  • At 12:41 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • tony d wrote:

I think it very unfair that NZ did not win the world cup (again)and that Australia lost to a team with better forwards.

I demand that we change the rules immedietly so that these two great nations have a better chance of winning the world cup next time;

Can we now ensure that only SH referees are used and that any team who are found to have Kicked AND scrummaged successfully during a game have 20 points deducted from their final score.

Passes can now be made in a forward or backwards motion by any team wearing a Black or Gold top.

Any player not wearing a Black or Gold top who manages a sucessful pressure reliveing kick should be penalised 3points and made to hop for the remainder of that half.

Any team who have the temerity to take the feld wearing White / Non Black and or Non Gold shirts are immedietly sin binned for 20 minutes as soon as they touch the ball.

In the event or a team wearing a Black or Gold top conceding a try - the two video referees (who will be either NZ or Austrailian) will take the mandatory 2 minutes to rule it disallowed. No reason for this will be required.

In the event of NZ being drawn France, the Draw will be considered Null and void and will be redrawn until NZ face Portugal, Romania, Peckam, and Catford ladies followed by a bye to the final.

Finally - In the event of NZ NOT winning the 2011 World cup, the competition will be ruled null and void and will have to be replayed. Only the host nation will be allowed to take part.

This should allow for a far more open and fluid game and get more people tru the turn styles .

Alternatively shut up whinging and give thanks for a fantastic World Cup, brlliant humble fans (mainly)and get on with the great game and spectacle that is Union.

COME ON ENGLAND in the 6N :)

  • 32.
  • At 12:57 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Karl wrote:

Some great ideas but I would suggest that there are some existing laws that could be better enforced in order to improve the game, namely;
The offside line in the scrum - ensure that the opposition scrum half stays on his side of the ball, too often they are stood behind their opposite number who has had the put in. This should mean quicker ball from first phase. Aslo ensure back row are fully bound, i.e a whole arm, not a hand and that any contact from a flanker on a prop be penalised, will lead to quicker scrum ball, perhaps the return of channel one ball as well as giving the fly half more time and space. And finally keep the neutral zone clear at ruck and maul, no player to be in front of the back foot of his own side unless fully bound (arm not hand), thus removing "blockers" and ensuring that players picking and driving or rolling off mauls (remember that?)have space, rather than straight to ground head to head clashes we get now. Or am I just too much of an amateur barbarian in the professional age?

  • 33.
  • At 02:30 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • roger harrison wrote:

Over recent years the laws of rugby have been adjusted a number of times to change the way the game is played and encourage more running rugby. Some of these alterations have led to teams trying not to commit forwards to the contact area, surely the answer is to make changes to tie the front 5 in longer and leave more open space out wide. Also, how about the 1 point penalty and 1 point drop goal?

  • 34.
  • At 02:44 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Baxter_13 wrote:

"bread down defenses..."

Qua ?

Are you sure you didn't mean 15 a side rugby??

  • 35.
  • At 02:58 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Baxter_13 wrote:

"bread down defenses..."

Qua ?

Are you sure you didn't mean 15 a side rugby??
I think you were drunk when you wrote this, because a) it's a load of drivvel and b) I don't agree with a single thing your saying... that has not happened to me on a single Blog of the RWC !!!

  • 36.
  • At 03:11 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • alistair wrote:

England and Argentina only play with 10 players. I doubt they would miss it if you took away the wingers.

  • 37.
  • At 04:32 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Ieuan wrote:

I disagree with John.. The game must stay 15-a-side, if you think there are too many players on the field, make the pitch wider and longer.. (That'll sort endurance levels) Kicking has always been a useful tactic - have you noticed the suspense in the crowd and the players during an up and under? Where will it land? Who will catch it? Will it work.. I agree with whoever said 'kick when the defence is organised, and run at the opposition when the defence is disorganised'.. I think there have been many instances of excellent running rugby during this World Cup - and not just the so-called giants v minnows: South Africa v England pool stage, Fiji v Wales, South Africa v USA/Samoa, All Blacks v Scotland (for a while), 3 of the quarters (not Australia v England - but that was exciting in a different way, tho'), South Africa v Argentina in the semi.. That's a lot of rugby.. One thing that bugs me no end, does anyone agree - is when the opposition either holds onto the ball or throws it away from the attacking side to stop a quick tap being taken! Some refs pick it up, others don't.. Immediate yellow card and ten metres added on, it's my pet hate!

  • 38.
  • At 05:49 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Guess what...there is a version of this...it's called "Rugby Sevens". It's only been around since 1883.
Nobody can argue that this Rugby World Cup has been full of flowing, running rugby, but on the other hand, nobody can argue that it hasn't been filled with fascinating encounters. Changing the number of players on the pitch wouldn't make any difference to the tactics of the game, neither would changing the dimensions of the pitch. The only way is by changing the laws of scoring - rewarding greater points for tries or fewer points for penalties, drop goals etc. But in my opinion this would not help the game at all, as teams will always look for the simplest way to score points, and matches would just be low-scoring. The other thing is, ask most of England what they thought of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. They will tell you that it has been filled with ups and downs, fascinating battles and tight matches. So perhaps the elegant tries of Jeremy Guscott have been replaced by the powerful scrummaging of Andrew Sheridan and the meticulous boot of Jonny Wilkinson. That does not mean the game has become less interesting. On the contrary, rugby has become even more of a battle than it was before the professional era, and in my opinion that is even more intriguing. Also, the easier it is the score, the less skill will be needed in creating tries. The aim of rugby is to break down the defences and score as many points as possible; when teams stop giving away penalties and start to work on how to break down the toughest defences in the world, that is when rugby will return to it's flowing, running era. Tactical kicking is really a child of the professional game, and it will not (and does not need to) go away any time soon.

  • 39.
  • At 06:30 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Ieuan wrote:

I disagree with John. 15 players on each team should remain. Makes pitches longer and wider - that should test endurance levels! Kicking can be an entertaining part of the game - the suspense when a high kick is unleashed is palpable in the crowd and players alike: where's it going go, who'll catch/drop it, what'll happen next.. It's not always predictable.. I also disagree with his comments about 'action'.. What about these games:
South Africa v England (pool stage)
South Africa v Samoa
South Africa v Tonga
Argentina v Ireland
Wales v Fiji
New Zealand v Italy
New Zealand v Scotland (well, part of it)
3 quarter finals (not England v Australia, although it was exciting in a different way)
South Africa v Argentina
Argentina v France - great game!
There's a lot of exciting rugby there, John..
One last comment - my pet hate: when a team holds on to the ball or throws it away to stop a quick tap after a penalty has been awarded against them. AAARRGH!Immediate yellow card and a further 10 metres given.. Anyone agree?

  • 40.
  • At 06:42 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Ieuan wrote:

Sorry about the last message.. I thought the first one didn't get through.. I'm not going mad! But to sum up.. There were few games I didn't enjoy (even when Wales lost!)
And well done England for turning it round - whatever style they used!

  • 41.
  • At 08:58 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • NickN wrote:

The driving force behind Australia wanting to change the rules is that League is the more popular sport in Oz. The joy of union is the scrums, rucks and mauls; strong teams driving back attacks. This years competition was a glory of forwards play and the joy of a team of fast runners brought down by great defence was the best ever. If you look at Kiwi & Oz rugby it is creeping closer to League (not competing in Scrums). Enjoy the technicalities of Union it is what it is all about.

  • 42.
  • At 09:45 PM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Marvin wrote:

Tournament - Tries Scored in Knockout Phase - (Points in tries / Points in total) - % of total points scored in tries.

Rugby World Cup 1987 – 41 tries (164 points / 337 points) 48.7%
Rugby World Cup 1991 – 21 tries (84 points / 216 points) 38.9%
Rugby World Cup 1995 – 33 tries (165 points / 392 points) 42.1%
Rugby World Cup 1999 – 28 tries (120 points / 428 points) 28%
Rugby World Cup 2003 – 30 tries (150 points / 349 points) 43%
Rugby World Cup 2007 – 26 tries (130 points / 287 points) 45.2%

*Bear in mind that tries were worth 4 points in both the 1987 and 1991 World Cups.

Therefore, in terms of amount of tries scored compared with all other points, the Rugby World Cup 2007 is more effective than all others except the 1987 Rugby World Cup. Try-scoring is no less important these days than when the World Cup began! Incidentally, the least try-scoring world cup was 1999, which Australia won. So much for 2003 being boring because of England...

  • 43.
  • At 12:31 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

This talk about wholesale changing of rules/ reducing the number of players etc is, in my opinion, ridiculous. The art of avoiding losing goes hand-in-hand with knock-out tournament rugby.

If New Zealand had won this world cup with the brand of rugby they have displayed over the last few years then this debate would not be happening. Instead the debate would be how do we catch up with the southern hemisphere teams? Indeed, at the start of the tournament I was fearful that the NH sides were going to get absolutely drubbed. As embarrassing as this may have been it would have at least made the six nations teams take a long hard look at the way they play the game and the development of young players. It’s been obvious, to me at least, that the quality of the last few six nations tournaments has been dire.

As it happened, New Zealand lost, principally because they don’t have a plan B game, possibly due to current make-up of the team i.e. no vocal leaders. They also ended up playing France who seem to have a bit of mental hoodoo over the AB’s.

That does not mean that the game should be changed. The teams that did well at the tournament played to their current strengths; if one of their strengths is a kicking game or a strong pack then they would be foolish not to use it when it was right to do so. If a ‘better’ team, like the all blacks, can’t perform on the day –well that’s just tournament rugby I’m afraid.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world cup, mainly because it showed that a greater number of teams can compete fairly evenly. This was due to established teams being relatively poor, and also the progression of the traditionally weaker teams – and the fact that the AB’s had ONE bad game.

  • 44.
  • At 12:36 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • HoseyG wrote:

The reason I love rugby is because of the variety in the game, mauling, lineouts, scrums, kicking, running, tackling, passing. The semis and finals were made more enjoyable by the sheer drama of having close games which is fine. However, there was a total lack of variety in the games. There were no fluent back ine moves, no team passing and trying to create overlaps, as everyone was too scared to try anything. I enjoy up and unders and crossfield up to a point but those games had too much of this to make them enjoyable. Surely you must agree that having moe variety in those matches would hav made it more enjoyable. I love the technical aspects of the game as much as the glamour; what real rugby follower wants to see just the boring up and under and kicking game for 78 minutes out of an 80 minute game. If rugby wants to grow as a world sport which we all want it be then the reality is it needs improving. What a lot of blinkered English fans in this post are saying is a 100% kicking game is enjoyable because England got in the final because they don't have the ability or desire to play the 15 man game. Their loss - the 1 time they ran the ball in the final they were inches from scoring. If the team could actually score tries the maybe you might see the merits in having some variety in your game. God forbid the RWC ends up like the football WC where teams stick 1 up the front and have the rest of the team defending - although from reading these posts it seems that is how most of you want it.

  • 45.
  • At 03:14 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • BRYAN wrote:

When will people wake up? It's not about north vs south, it's not about kick vs tries, it's about getting the game in balance. If the only way that defence can be broken is by a forward mauling the ball what happened to the rest of the game.
WHY IS A RUCK CALLED A RUCK? BECAUSE YOU RUCK THE BALL WITH YOUR FEET.
Why did the NH change the rules in the first place?
Why don't we go back to the laws of ten years ago?
The game is about forwards and backs, attack and defence, if we have only one way to play the game (kick it and wait for a mistake) the games a loser's.
I played as a forward against Merts, Blackadder, Marshal, and Tumu etc and loved the ruck and maul but at the end of the day I did this so the backs had room to run the moves. If there’s no room just kick it and maul is all that is left. If you get down the other end take the points but lets make sure that you have to play rugby to get the ball down there not just kick and wait.
Your not a rugby fan if you have to put all the other teams down, I was brought up on story about the Saffa’s being had as nails, Wales great backs, Munster win against the AB’s, France running the ball from every where.
At the end of the day where would rugby be with out the help each other has given.
NZ supplied the cash to keep the Ozzies going and where the only team that would play the French to start with. The Saffas put the money in to keep the game from splitting in the 90s. Please remember that this is the game we all love.

The people who are calling for bigger pitches seem to be conceding the problem outlined by John Beattie, but their solution is less practical and practicable than his! I don't know if I am willing to concede the problem as outlined by John in the first place. Yes there were no tries in the final but almost all the games were hugely exciting and/or entertaining and there were plenty of tries anyway.

  • 47.
  • At 09:26 AM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Post 42 - Marvin. Some excellent stats there! However, don't you mean the least number of tries were scored in 1991. They constituted a smaller proportion of the scoring in 99, but fewer overall were scored in 91. Which is of course the other year that Australia won.

As per so many of the above posts. League is a great game John, watch it. Union is also a great game enjoyed by many. If you don't like it just watch league as it sounds like that's the kind of game you'd prefer.

  • 48.
  • At 12:10 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • tigers-andy wrote:

As a fan of both i would hope to give an unbiased answer. Rugby league has more tries and line breaks but admittedly can be one-dimensional. Union has bits that keep it entertaining even when tries arent scored such as the enjoyment of seeing one sides forwards dominate the others in the scrum and the excitement when a turnover is made. I personally enjoy the fact that there is two different forms of rugby, with one providing fast flowing running dominated rugby while the other only slightly sacrificing this for the added aspects of scrums etc.

These aspects of union seemed to be ignored by people such as john beattie who are clearly too stupid to realise there is a form of rugby with less players and more tries. All people who agree with john, not necessarily for such one-eyed reasons can simply switch viewing habits to watch rugbly league which they would love without ruining it for everyone else by trying to get rid of unions existing format.

  • 49.
  • At 04:39 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • Iain Sharples wrote:

Many interesting comments here. I have played and watched rugby for a long time and most of the time enjoy it (although I think the value of the international tests has been diluted by too many fixtures).

While playing there was often a feeling, from the players and the ref., that we weren't quite sure of the rules at the breakdown. This view is supported by non-union fans that I watch the game with over here in Australia.

This might seem contradictory to the above but to my mind the less we change the rules the better. The best team will win at the end of the day, whether by running or kicking. Keeping the rules consistent means that over time more people (players and spectators) will understand them and refereeing decisions should become more consistent/understood.

I strongly agree with the observation that football doesn't need 5 goals a game - so why should rugby need lots of tries. Super 14 is held up over here as the way to play rugby. Unfortunatley what we get is a lot of tries with very little excitement. I would bet the Kiwis much prefer seeing the Crusaders knock the hell out of the Chiefs for a 10-3 victory than a 35-20 run around where no-one really competes.

I think it is hard to say that rugby is struggling or needs changes when you get average crowds of 45,000 to world cup games (when that includes some very minor fixtures). The Wallabies are upset because they are failing to compete with League and Aussie Rules, but that is the ARU's problem, not the rest of the world's.

  • 50.
  • At 09:14 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • Alonso Ibata wrote:

This glorification of the open game really, really, really bugs me. Just because tries aren't being scored doesn't mean it's not a good game. The world cup is always going to be tight, no matter what you do. It you start messing around with the numbers or the size of the pitch you ruin the game.
You could make parallels with football during the 70s and 80s, where players like Zico et al, regularly scored from 35 yards. Now days it doesn't happen as much because defences are so much tighter. By when goals from long shots do come along, they are more special for being less common and performed under greater duress from the opposition. One could say the same for the recent wonder tries scored by the Eagles and the Cherry Blossoms.

My major gripe that links in, is this constant changing of rules to aquire this open game. In the last year, I've seen referees have total contradiction when it comes to rules at the break down. That's not to say that I don't mind the rules being tweaked every now and again, but fundermentals of the game need to be preserved at some level. I'd be tempted to keep one rule for amateurs (when smaller players are at lower risks of injury)and another for the professionals, but in essence I feel the game is fine as it is, and rugby should not pamper those romantics who feel that rugby would be better without the tight play. If its so much better, why don't 7s tournements have a following the size of 15 a-side. The answer is that union, as currently played, is a mix of different tactic, players are still all shapes and sizes, and to me, is very rarely monotonous to watch.

Those people who don't like real Rugby as it is should convert to Superleague.

If many rugby union fans are happy to see games like the Final, with lots of rucking and mauling, then why are the matches that are always hailed as classics from the archives such try -fests? Similarly, as several posters have already mentioned, there were some other cracking matches in the RWC. Had South Africa v Tonga been the final, this debate simply would not be happening.

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