Rugby a simple game made complicated

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South Africa's Schalk Burger, center, is sin-binned

South Africa's Schalk Burger, center, is sin-binned during their international rugby union match against the British Lions at Loftus Versfeld stadium, Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, June 27, 2009. AP Photo/Paul Thomas

Rugby is a simple game made complicated – just look at rugby league. Most adversarial games, rugby league, AFL (Aussie Rules), American gridiron, football (soccer), are simple in their rules and have huge followings.

The simple reason is exactly that; the game is simple to play and simple for the fans to follow. The rules are simple and easily understood by all and interference by referees is minimal.

If this be the case, then why is rugby union in its entirety so damn complicated?

The other interesting point to note is that it should be a collective team effort that decides game outcomes, not just an individual.

These days rugby relies so much on one person to win the game for the team solely as an individual by penalty kicking or drop-kicking goals, when the true objective is for the team to get tries that involve by a team effort to do so. It can be argued that this is done; yes, but not simply as in other codes.

Over the years the IRB have fiddled with rules, made rule changes that appear to favour some of the different playing styles of some countries by removing rucking, scrum contestability, speed flow and still continue to retain the greatest of irritation of all, the three point kicks.

Rugby league by comparison has simple rules, with points that are in proportion to team effort. Why must rugby, therefore, arrogantly believe that their point system is correct when rugby league is already proving that the point system they have been using for so long is so successful?

The Rugby World Cup is now upon us and already it is being stated that kicks will determine the outcome. If this be fact, then why bother with a team trying to obtain scores by tries?

Is it that rugby has become a game whereby fourteen players engineer a penalty after getting a ball to a position for a fifteenth player to kick the points?

Or could it be that the IRB want to retain total control of games and outcomes, by using the many rules that we all know are flawed, and through the direction of their officials decide who will or will not be the successful team rather than by player determination?

Is there an element of subtle “bullying” by the IRB rule setters to have complicated rules that possibly provide hidden but predetermined outcomes that protect their many interests?

Maybe I’m just too suspicious these days of how some obscure “interpretive” rulings in games are being applied and I continue to notice how too many officials see, or don’t see, things that everyone else sees!

When I look at other codes whose uncomplicated rules provide them total transparency, I cannot help wondering why rugby union has not moved down the same uncomplicated path.

The game’s rules need to be simplified and modified to improve the game for all, and thereby nullify all doubt from the minds of such suspicious conspiracy theorists like me.

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