The Waratahs and Wallabies need Israel Folau to fix his jumping technique, and soon

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Australian fans might not like to admit it, but Israel Folau has a problem with his aerial technique. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

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    Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald published a letter that made a snide personal attack on Israel Folau by linking his off-field comments with his on-field play.

    “There’s something delightfully karmic about Israel Folau being judged unfairly”.

    It’s time for the SMH to stop painting Folau as some sort of community scourge.

    And, moreover, it is time for the publication and the Australian rugby community to stop its outrage over World Rugby’s week-long suspension of Folau for his dangerous contact in the air with Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony during the third Test of the enthralling series against Ireland.

    Over the weekend, the Waratahs survived the loss of Folau (and Michael Hooper, with his hamstring problem) by defeating the Rebels 31-26 at Melbourne in one of the best Australian derbies in many years.

    But after the match, the Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson returned to the Folau issue, rather like a tongue seeking out an aching tooth, by asking World Rugby to provide some clarity on challenges in the air.

    You expect the Fox Sports claque of commentators to be “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” in their attitude to anything that happens on the rugby field, even when they often have to display an invincible ignorance of the complex laws of the game to maintain their ridiculous displays of rugby ockerism.

    But the coach of the Waratahs, the coach of Israel Folau, must meet a higher standard of commentary.

    The fact of the matter is that Ireland exposed a weakness in Folau’s high ball technique that needs to be fixed up. The person who should help to fix the problem is Gibson, in his capacity as coach of the Waratahs.

    But if he is unwilling to work out what World Rugby finds illegal, in a rugby sense, with Folau’s high ball technique, then the Waratahs and Wallabies star is going to receive a lot more yellow cards in the coming Super Rugby finals and the Tests leading up to and through the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

    Israel Folau’s technique is fine when he is catching the ball. He turns his back in the textbook manner as he makes the catch, with two hands.

    This last phrase, “with two hands,” is the crucial point. There is no way with this catching technique, allied to his leaping skills, for him to pull on the limbs or jersey of someone contesting the catch against him.

    Maria Folau, Israel’s wife, posted a tweet and a picture of her partner taking a high kick-off in the opening minute of the Brisbane Test during which shows clearly that Ireland’s Rob Kearney has hands around his (Folau’s) waist while the catch is being made.

    Well, no. It was not reckless and it did not result in any injury to Folau. Folau actually jumped into Kearney before the Ireland player could make his leap. This is quite clear from the photo that headed the Twitter comment.

    Israel Folau’s problems really relate to when he is the chaser rather than the receiver of a kick, either in general play or from kick-offs.

    And specifically with a cunning legal tactic devised by the Ireland coaching staff to counter Folau’s spectacular aerial skills.

    When he is chasing down a high ball, Folau likes to time his jump so that he comes in sideways, with his back turned on the receiver standing under the ball.

    After being terrorised by Folau in the first Test, Ireland created a plan where runners came back in a line outside of the catcher. Folau was forced to come around these runners, somewhat like a high jumper with an angled run-in to the bar.

    He also had to leap extremely high as Ireland decided to lift the catcher.

    When Folau missed the catch his hands almost instinctively locked on to the arms of lifted catcher. This happened twice in the third Test.

    The photos of two incidents in this Test, where Folau was “reckless” according to World Rugby, show him well behind the lifted catcher and, therefore, in a position where it is almost inevitable that he will topple the lifted catcher dangerously to the ground.

    Most international teams will now defend their catchers against Folau in the Irish manner. If Folau does not adjust, he will be carded out of Test rugby. This is why the Waratahs coach needs to adjust Folau’s technique with his time headed for the Super Rugby finals.

    My worry about this need for Folau to correct his fault in technique is that I say that there is no one in the Australian rugby community in an official position or in the media (with the exception of Paul Cully) who seems to understand the hard fact that there is a weakness in Folau’s technique and that the weakness needs to be corrected.

    Israel Folau Australia Rugby Union Championship Bledisloe Cup Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    I say with all honesty that the greatest impediment to the successful progress of Australian rugby teams, at all levels of the game, is the total unwillingness to accept that the overall poor record is due to coaching and playing weaknesses and not perceived poor decisions by referees and TMOs.

    In the Folau case, the Australia rugby leadership group, officials, coaches, players and media (the claque, as I perceive it) have been obsessed with raising a phony defence that the Folau problem is related to a failure of the lifter to bring his catcher safely to the ground.

    They then argue that lifting in general play should be banned.

    It is true that lifters are required to bring the lifted player safely to ground. It is one of the more arcane laws of rugby. I have never seen it applied (as it should be) on the rare occasions, generally from kick-offs, when the lifted player has toppled to the ground when the positioning for a catch has been misjudged.

    But this requirement of bringing the catcher safely to the ground does not apply if an opponent interferes with the catcher in the air and effectively topples him.

    We see this requirement come into play frequently in lineouts when a lifted jumper is interfered with and crashes to the ground. Invariably, and correctly, a penalty or sometimes a card, is awarded against the player who interfered with the lifted jumper.

    Paul Cully, in an informative article in the SMH headed ‘Wallabies and World Rugby at war after ruling grounds Izzy‘, points out that World Rugby made a “strong defence” of the single lifter technique in its ruling on the Folau-Peter O’Mahony incident.

    And here is the defence: “One-man lifts in general play are commonplace and employed regularly by receiving teams on the World Rugby Sevens Series to combat kicking teams who kick high on the 10m to recover possession.”

    The point that World Rugby is making here is that receiving teams need to have a remedy to balance charging runner/jumpers when a high ball is directed at them. That remedy is the single lifter technique.

    It seems to me, from an extensive reading of the history relating to the laws of rugby, that this direction follows the historical trajectory of the game as it evolves out of a “rugby football” code that rewarded kicking skills in the main into a specifically “rugby” code where the rewards mainly go to the teams with running and passing skills.

    Remember, the myth of William Webb Ellis is that he picked up the ball and ran with it on the Big Field at Rugby School. Before you could kick a goal in those early days, you had to score a try.

    The true DNA of rugby, therefore, lies with those aspects of the game that do not involve kicking.

    And wonder of wonder, the Waratahs and the Rebels, playing a running and passing game with high skill levels, put on a tremendous match at Melbourne. The Waratahs look certain to be the top Australian team in the finals. The Rebels should join them in the finals, as one of the bottom qualifying teams.

    The Brumbies, playing with the brutal efficiency that was once their hallmark, reduced the Hurricanes to error-prone wrecks in their emphatic 24-12 victory at Canberra.

    I can’t see the Brumbies making the finals, although I suppose there is an outside mathematical chance of this happening.

    So my fearless prediction is that the Waratahs and Rebels will be finalists, along with the top four New Zealand teams (no Blues, in other words) and the Jaguares and Lions from the South African Conference.

    The Rebels should get to 39 points, the bottom line for qualifying teams I would guess, by defeating the Reds at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, next Friday night.

    The Waratahs should also get into the safe 40+ points zone when they defeat the Sunwolves at Allianz Stadium, Sydney, even though the Sunwolves were impressive in defeating the Bulls in Singapore over the weekend.

    It seems impossible, though, for the Brumbies to get the ten points they need to be in with a chance for the finals from playing the Chiefs at Hamilton and then the Waratahs at Sydney.

    The dark horse in the finals are the Jaguares, who are on a terrific winning streak that should see them defeat the Bulls in Pretoria and the Sharks in Durban.

    If the Jaguares get a home final as the winners of the South African conference, the team that plays them is, to put it mildly, going to be for a torrid time.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (190)

    • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:24am
      Neil Back said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Blimey. Calling out Folau to be the one at fault. Then the madness that is Fox commentary. Followed by the Australian blame game for excusing failure. Tick, tick and tick. Nothing for me to disagree with from Spiro, this promises to be a unique week.

      Didn’t want to ruin things by reading past ‘fearless predictions’ – it invariably turns to custard.

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 8:44am
        Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        The problem with what goes on in the air, certainly in the 2 cases involving Izzy in the recent test, is that the player was put in a dangerous position by being lifted. The motion of the lifter trying to manoeuvre his player under the ball while the catcher is twisting to reach for the ball will more often than not cause the player to be dropped regardless of an opponent jumping against them. World Rugby should be aware of this and the danger it places the player in. They are at the moment reluctant to issue a directive to penalise a player for not protecting his own player when returning him to the ground. They need to be prepared to do that, or ban lifting all together.
        Israel Folau has the cleanest and most effective 2 handed jump in rugby by a long way. World Rugby won’t acknowledge the need for change while he is such a threat to other nations. His aerial superiority is why teams are taking such risks hurling players into the air with little or no realistic support for their safe return to the ground.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 9:16am
          bazza said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          This is what world rugby Ignore totally.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 9:40am
            The Sheriff said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            Indeed, so does Spiro.
            Not an issue? I think so.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 2nd 2018 @ 9:50am
            Paulo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

            No, World Rugby list Sevens Rugby as an example, but watch any game over the weekend and you will see single man lifting a lot. And no one topples to the ground. Folau pushing the lifted player makes him land badly, if you cant see that by now then I guess you never will. It is a leap in logic to argue that World Rugby is against Australia because they wont change the status quo to suit Folau’s flawed technique.

            The Tahs showed they don’t actually need him to win well in a tight game. Everyone has had Folau blinkers on for so long it has become an obsession. He was the one shining light in an otherwise dark night of Australian Rugby, but there are other ways to win than just the cross field kick to Folau.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:23am
              Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

              Folau is so good at it the opponents take greater risks as was clearly displayed by the Irish.

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:38am
                Jacko said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

                Foalu’s ability to jump high then grab another player who is at his height is exceptional…He is so good at it that if you ever wanted to show juniors how to take people out in the air then he is a training video waiting to happen. If you have any doubt just ask his wife as Im sure she will say the truth rather than just back up her husband

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 12:36pm
                WARugbynut said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                Not uncommon to have lifters at kickoffs

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 1:04pm
                Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                Not uncommon, WA, but still as they try to get higher with single lifters the inevitable risk factor increases without the responsibility.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 4:28pm
              in brief said | July 2nd 2018 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

              Stander dropped O’Mahony. Folau did not impact at all. Bad lifting, bad catching = bad injury waiting to happen.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:43am
          Dave said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          I completely agree. The Irish were going for incompetent lifting because they were so desperate to stop Australia getting the ball no matter what. It has nothing to do with Folau’s technique – it was just unique to that game because of the Irish tactics. In both instances the Irish lifted their player when they were not underneath where the ball was falling – instead of pulling out the lifting player tried desperately to push the lifted player at the top of the lift to compensate and the lifted played desperately reached off balance to get their hands on the ball. The player most probably would have landed on their head even if Folau didn’t challenge for the ball.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 12:07pm
          haymother said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          I agree. Spiro actually explains well how it is that Folou ‘instinctively’ reaches out … that is, he is not trying to injure the player. This is exposed as a ‘weakness in technique’ given Ireland’s seemingly suicidal tactics to get him carded. It’s arguably sour grapes to ask for a rule change to suit one of our player’s strengths, but here again we have the laws of the game acting to the detriment of the spectacle. Do we want to see spectacular athletic leaps from opposing players? Surely the answer is yes. This was only dangerous as the Irish player was lifted. With this decision, we’ll see less leaps to avoid the potential of carding. When up that high your hands go out to steady yourself as you go down, if a player is held up in the air next to you, there will be contact and if they are not held up safely they will spin and fall. So the answer is not contesting if there is a player held up high next to you, or pin your arms at your sides and risk injury? Can we just say no lifting for contested kicks … let the most athletic player win that little battle? Safer and looks better.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 1:14pm
          Morsie said | July 2nd 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

          I’d like to know specifically what Folau’s faulty technique is. Spiro keeps mentioning that he has a faulty technique, but with no other details………..

          • Roar Guru

            July 2nd 2018 @ 2:15pm
            jeznez said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

            The fault is that he is grabbing players as he goes through. Spiro talks around it but doesn’t explicitly state it.

            Is the explanation of his comment that when Folau catches with two hands the technical fault disappears.

            I don’t think he is a dirty player so I’d suggest it is instinctive behaviour, the only way to correct that is through repetitive training so Spiro is spot on that the denial has to stop.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 3:16pm
              Buk said | July 2nd 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

              Good luck with explaining that to his wife 🙂

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 5:59pm
                Boomeranga said | July 2nd 2018 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

                I think it’s a fair question to ask. She wasn’t actually saying “My boy innocent. This guy guilty.”

                I can’t remember if a penalty was awarded or not but the difference in outcome is despite Kearney. The lack of lift and perhaps more aerial ability from Folau meaning he finds a slightly better way down shouldn’t lessen Kearney’s act if they are serious about the crime.

              • Roar Guru

                July 2nd 2018 @ 6:03pm
                jeznez said | July 2nd 2018 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

                Kearney was penalised – I thought he got of lightly but the call from the Folau’s looks to be asking why he wasn’t suspended as well, which is a fair question.

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:34pm
                Boomeranga said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

                Yeah. And the answer given will be the outcome. But then if the outcome counts, we circle back to the Frenchman with the fractured head. I think the frustration is justified at the moment.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 3:05pm
          Philip O'Donovan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

          It is far easier to to upset a lifted player in the air by the opposition making contact with him than any fault of the lifter.As to ” World Rugby won’t acknowledge the need for change while he is such a threat to other nations”,so the rest of the world is in collusion against Australia?.What an extraordinary arrogant comment.Or you are the most persecuted rugby nation on earth.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 3:58pm
            Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

            O’Donovan, you may like to make this about the result and teams bitching, but there is a safety issue that World Rugby want to address, but are ignoring the cause in this case. Lifting a player might seem ok if the positioning and timing is exact, as well as the strength and awareness of the lifter in protecting his teammate. But this rarely happens and you can’t tell one team they aren’t allowed to contest the ball. Easy and commonsense fix is being denied by those, like yourself, that have a vested interest in restricting players like Izzy.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 6:57pm
            Ruckin' Oaf said | July 2nd 2018 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

            Phil, Phil, Phil,

            Folau is an Australian player – clearly he can do no wrong. The dastardly Irish player should have been cited and faced a 5 match ban for cunning placing his body in Folau’s grasp.

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 4:07pm
        Curl said | July 2nd 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

        Another specious rant by Spiro…

        It’s simply absurd to say the challenge on Folau was legal and Folau’s leap was not is clearly ridiculous, either they were both were or they both weren’t. The big issue is the lack of consistency both between refs and by refs in games between teams. No one can argue that this isn’t a major problem in the game today, that needs to be fixed and handled much better and openly.

        Secondly, Spiro constant commentary on Fox is tedious and at best is the pot calling the kettle black… if you don’t like the Fox comentary then don’t watch it or turn the sound down and listen to the ABC commentary.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 5:57pm
          Nugget said | July 2nd 2018 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          No one has said that the challenge on Izzy his wife referenced want foul play. It was. He won a penalty. But it wasn’t reckless.
          Izzy jumps brilliantly, watching him get it right is fantastic. But when he misses, he grabs the other player. And that’s a fault in technique.
          And the lift be damned. All this argument about the lift and the lifters responsibilities go out the window when a 100kg bloke traveling at speed grabs, intentionally or not, and i really hope it was not, on that high. It’s physics at work.
          The rules need to be a bit clearer but stop this blinkered view of it wasn’t Izzy it was the Irish. Please.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:06pm
          Hazzmat said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

          Spiro also seems to ignore the fact that Folau is not always aiming to catch the ball but will also attempt to knock the ball back which I believe he was trying to do in this situation.

    • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:29am
      Sinclair said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Agree with the thrust of this article. My view changed when I saw replays, which show exactly what Chairman Zavos describes. However, I do think one man lifts should be outlawed in general play – they seem inherently dangerous, especially in contested ball situations. Another issue though is the total lack of consistency in referee/judiciary approach to high ball contests, including in the same game.

      • Roar Guru

        July 2nd 2018 @ 7:51am
        taylorman said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        Don’t think its as simple as that. If lifting, done to combat the effect of a player running ten to twenty yards to contest the ball, is removed, defending teams will apply the same tactic, run in from either behind or sideways to the same position to match the opposition height.

        You still get height, perhaps not as much but you certainly get potential for a bigger collision with the combined speed of two or more players.

        The lifting removal last week here wasn’t about any deep thinking about the consequences of removing lifting, but more to appease Folau followers.

        At least common sense has finally come through- Folau’s technique is flawed.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 8:57am
          Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          Not a flawed technique, clearly it’s very effective. When 2 players go up for the ball and one falls badly, you can’t just assume guilt on the part of the other. Nor can you look at a still photo in isolation and see a hand and assume it is in fact pulling or grabbing at an opponent. The majority of fault is in the lifting technique in this situation, and the judiciary, while covering their own officials poor judgement, realised this by giving such a lenient, but still incorrect suspension.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 2nd 2018 @ 9:53am
            Paulo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

            The judiciary have shown they have no issue throwing a ref under the bus when and where the choose to. His catching technique is typically effective, but needed to adjust in relation to the Irish tactic they had worked out to combat said technique. Its an arms race, and Folau is on the back foot now.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:25am
              Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

              Paulo, it appears their only tactic then was to have a poor lift and hope for the penalty.

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:43am
                jacko said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:43am | ! Report

                Steve the video evidence was very damming of Foalu and actually led to him being suspended…Then on appeal the experts somehow came up with the same conclusion…Folau took the man out in the air and was suspended for 1 match…So minor yet blown up to be so major…

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 1:58pm
                Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

                Jacko, it is a major issue because they are ignoring where the danger comes from and denying a fair contest. Don’t be influenced by one still shot compared to the video motion. Folau doesn’t pull him down, the lifting technique was the problem.
                Even if Folau was making incorrect contact, the lifting is inherently dangerous and the interpretation of fault is so skewed in favour of lifting team it makes for an unfair contest. A bit like the deliberate knock on interpretation ( note; not law) takes away the responsibility of the team in possession to make a decent pass.

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:20pm
                Jacko said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

                Steve that is not true…..The lifting technic created Zero issues…Folau’s grab is what created the issue…..I did not rely on the still shots…I have watched and watched the video on many occasions and seen the video replayed on TV and Fox many times….A single lift will fail 1 in 100…..a grab of someone in the air will result in a bad outcome at least 50
                % of the time…I do get the very strong impression that a million people could point these things out to you but you would still not accept it because you WANT Folau to be right and you want the rules based on suiting his ability to jump…No one disputes that he can jump…He needs to get it right just as every other player also needs to get any other aspect of rugby laws right

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:40pm
                Steve T said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

                Jacko, you may be right or not about this jump, and if we look back at many past lifts, we will see many done safely. But as the game has evolved the height is getting greater, the position of support is further below the center of gravity, and the opponent is jumper higher. This is no longer sub-district football of supporting under the armpits. And you’re also correct that a million people could tell me different, because 10 million could still agree. That’s one thing I have learnt, people just see things differently. But if you honestly think that the lifting is so safe, feel free to be put in that position while twisting to catch a ball, I hope you don’t believe it always lands nicely in your arms. And when we start seeing serious neck injuries, and the officials finally do something about the problem, perhaps more people will be in agreement. But regardless of who is at fault, the likelihood of serious injury will increase. We will be left with 2 options to protect someone in the air, either ban contesting for the ball, which would make the lift pointless anyway, or ban the lifting itself. Personally I prefer a fair contest and feel any law that favors a team for putting a player at risk is very poorly thought out.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:30am
              Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

              Also Paulo, choosing when to throw ref under a bus has, according to statistics, been somewhat swayed by the team affected.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 11:59am
                Paulo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

                Well, I am referring specifically to instances where a World Rugby Review has come out and said the official got it wrong; it happened to Joubert after he wrongly put Australia through in the last World Cup at eh cost of Scotland, and it happened to Gardner the other week. I cant think of too many other instances where they have done it. So statistically I’m not sure what that shows? Can you show me the stats you used?

                I also assume your logic is also that they were trying to cover up the incorrect YC on field by issuing another off-field YC, which leads to a ban, which they shortened because they knew neither YC should have been issued in the first place? Is that really your argument?

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 2:11pm
                Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                A lot of official interference to overturn James Horwill decision against Lions.
                Officials changed eligibility of 2 previously suspended Scottish players for that same World cup match. Also in that same Scottish match they mentioned one incorrect (despite it being hard to detect live) decision but ignored many other, more obvious ones that favored Scotland.
                Although they did make Bryce Lawrence apologize for his display in 2011 in Wallabies v Ireland pool game. He needed to apologize for his display in SA game as well but chose to quit instead.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:02am
          AlBo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          I resent the comment that the ‘lifter-removal’ suggestions were sour grapes alone.

          I have thought about it in depth for a long time since I saw Beast perform his Herculean effort. One man lifting is dangerous. If one team has a guy who is good at returning kick-offs then the other team has to work out how to counter it using their own skill set. Necessity is the mother of invention and there is a way if teams thought about it hard enough.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 2nd 2018 @ 12:06pm
            Paulo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            There is, its lifting, it happens pretty much every game, and aside from the uncommon occurrence of things going wrong, whether fair or foul, it typically occurs without issue. It happens so often we don’t really notice it as normally it is innocuous. Respect that you have thought about this for while, but the majority of people have taken it as their cause for the week. This week, it will be the dirty and cynical and thuggish play designed to cripple and maim and end Pococks career. Next week, who knows, probalby depends what the Cheifs to the BRumbies really.

            if you have thought about it for a while, that is really great, the more people putting serious thought into these issues the better, the less people having reactionary emotional responses which clutter the discussion with ridiculous conspiracy theories the better.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 5:17pm
              Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

              The lifting, like all things in sport, has evolved to a new level. We’re not talking the old days when a player gets a foot or 2 off the ground, but being lifted by a 2 meter giant’s outstretched arms holding onto shorts or even thighs. Being held with your centre of gravity in excess of 7 feet above the ground is daunting at the best of times, but have that support move around with a tenuous grip while trying to reach out for a moving object and it’s a recipe for disaster. Any support below the center of gravity is guaranteed to be unreliable and in danger of toppling, especially with the player being lifted weighing more than 100kgs. The chances of falling on your head are excessive to say the least and many on this forum seem to think that banning such a dangerous ploy is purely to do with sour grapes. I guess you just can’t open someone’s mind if they only listen to their own propaganda.

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:24pm
                Jacko said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

                I guess you just can’t open someone’s mind if they only listen to their own propaganda.

                So true Steve …stop listening to your own

            • July 3rd 2018 @ 12:54pm
              AlBo said | July 3rd 2018 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

              I appreciate the comment and acknowledgement and I do agree that some peoples foray into this issue is somewhat clouded by the current issue. I also understand that it does happen a lot without issue.

              What I’ve always wondered though is the ‘risk-reward’ benefit. I don’t really know what lifting in general play brings to the game apart from the added security of the kick return. The thing I’ve always loved about rugby is that almost everything is technically a contest that can be won or lost: the scrum, ruck, maul, lineout and kick off. Is it technically possible to lift someone to retrieve a bomb? I actually don’t know the answer to that question. If not then it’s only allowed for kick-offs, which just seems strange to me as it’s really only the defending team that can do it.

              There are many issues in rugby that are great to talk about and this is the zeitgeist. To me it all comes down to the potential for grave injury when people are having mid air collisions higher than they are naturally meant to go.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 1:15pm
          Morsie said | July 2nd 2018 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          How is it flawed? Just because 2 players collide in the air IN A BODY CONTACT SPORT THAT IS FUNDAMENTALLY ABOUT CONSTANT COMPETITION FOR THE BALL, doesn’t mean there’s a problem. You could just as easily say there’s a problem with lifting a player into the aerial contact zone……….

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:54am
        Dave said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        I agree too – lifting in general play adds nothing to the game, and I personally think it is awkward and looks a bit stupid. It is obviously dangerous as well if the lifter makes no effort at all to support or catch the lifted player as they can get a penalty or yellow/red call if thet are ‘lucky’ enough for their lifted player to land on their head.

        I mean if you have lifting you may as well let players run around with other players on their shoulders and then it would be illegal to tackle the player at the bottom even if the player at the top has the ball. So you would have to have the tackler on the shoulders of a player to tackle the player with the ball. Lifting in general play is just as a stupid concept – let’s just get rid of it – it adds nothing to the game.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:11am
          Ross said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          Brilliant idea! In response to “So you would have to have the tackler on the shoulders of a player to tackle the player with the ball.” – that would also be illegal, because you cannot grab, push, or tackle the man in the air (on the shoulders). So, piggy back tries all day!!

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:34am
          ethan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          I would love to see a team actually employ this in a game. I wonder if there are any rules that definitively outlaw it? Any scholar of the law know? It would be even better than that time Italy refused to commit to rucks against England.

          A new rule will be passed immediately stating, “You can still do one man lifts, but the lifter can not run or walk while he is in the air”.
          Then we will be debating whether the lifter took a step in every scenario, and bemoaning referee inconsistencies.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:37am
            Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

            Very true Ethan. The officiating body will see a minor problem and then change things to create 5 major problems.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 2nd 2018 @ 11:38am
            piru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            Ethan a mate and I had this exact idea one day over beers, but it is in fact against the laws

            I can’t remember which exactly but it’s definitely in there

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:56am
              ethan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

              Thanks Priu, you would hope so! At least the law books is not completely without common sense.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 12:13pm
                piru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

                We envisaged a catch in a lineout, but with the player kept at the top of his leap – the two lifters then begin walking him upfield with immunity.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 2:28pm
                tsuru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

                Piru, I love it. This ranks as even more out-of-the-box than the Italians’ no-contest-in-the-ruck idea. Which reminds me – I haven’t seen any team refuse to contest the rolling maul after a lineout recently. Has this just gone out of fashion, or has there been a rule or interpretation change?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 2:32pm
                piru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

                Tsuru, nah I think teams are just holding the ball at the front until they make contact now (which technically they were supposed to be doing anyway) meaning there’s no advantage to not engaging – or at least not enough to warrant trying to trick them

    • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:30am
      Connor33 said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      I think by now that Folau realizes that he had his hand on O’Mahoney. There’s no doubt that this was a substantial factor in him falling on his back. Yellow card. One week. We should move on.

      What I find interesting in all this is Hansen uncharacteristically coming to the call that Folau is possibly in the right.

      But as Read makes his comeback, shortly—a player that is notorious for flying recklessly into players being lifted at kick off, Hansen is really protecting the Kiwis’ major threat off kick offs. That’s the real story in all this.

      I guess reallizing that the Kiwis weren’t getting pinged for it last year, AU has now developed a similar threat with Folau. But, I guess, Folau is actually closer to the ball when he jumps compared to the Ten Pin bowling technique that Reed employs.

      Anyway, I think the whole Folau thing has been done to death. If we’re going to start getting serious about player safety, there needs to be a focus on Pocock and the deliberate targeting of his neck by Kiwi teams (at the moment) and no doubt SA players once the RC kicks off.

      If journalists don’t start putting an emphasis on Pocock’s neck wrenching, we’ll be looking at another Catchpole moment; though this one could be even more tragic (if that’s even possible).

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 8:01am
        Bing said | July 2nd 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Agree Connor. Spiro as a kiwi naturally has his glasses tinted as most people here seem to do; it all depends where your allegiances lie. Pocock has been consistently targeted by opposition teams for foul play, and yet no mention. I see the Hurricane players magically got off with warnings on the weekend. Funny that.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 9:42am
          The Sheriff said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

          Four warnings before a card….that’s ok?

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 9:08am
        Rod said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        So by now Folau realises he has hand on him. I can’t imagine there are many cases where there isn’t incidental contact with each other in a contest for a high ball. Given World Rugby is looking turn the game into tag.

        Why don’t we start with eliminating all kicks above the shoulder I’m kidding . But Ban single player lifting of your teammayevas this substantially increases the risk of seriously injuring the player.

        You could argue that Folau is at some fault , but I would argue if you stupid enough to get lifted by one player you are taking that risk and should suffer the consequences if it goes wrong . If I was Mahoney I would not put myself at such risk

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:23am
          Ross said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          I originally thought the whole Folau card and post match citing was ridiculous. I’ve change my mind.

          I think Spiro’s main point, and the main point of other opinions I’ve read on this over the last week or so, is that the team receiving a kick are lifting to counter the tactic of chasing a kick, leaping horizontally from the side and using a single hand to tap the ball back to your team mates (i.e. what Folau was punished for and Read was prolific at in 2017), instead of a genuine attempt to catch the kick.

          The irony here is that if Folau had lept horizontally straight on, and tried to catch the ball with 2 hands, the side of his body would have thumped into the side POM’s body, his hands probably would have caught the ball and he would not have been sanctioned. And POM would have come crashing down to the ground far more violently than the effect the incidental left arm brush had on causing him to topple.

          In effect, Folau is being pinged for not truly competing for the ball. When both players get int he air and truly compete for the ball, there is no foul – even when an injury results.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:53am
            Reverse Wheel said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            This is probably correct but absolutely bizarre. So Spiro thinks Folau’s “flaw” is not catching with two hands. But one hand gives greater reach and that can be the difference sometimes, just ask John Dyson. So Spiro is now arguing that Folau has to significantly limit his catching abilities because opposition teams are intentionally obstructing him and then throwing men up on dangerous lifts. What the?

            • Roar Rookie

              July 2nd 2018 @ 12:10pm
              Paulo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

              No, don’t place your trailing arm around the opposition player in the air. We have done this all week. Aren’t we sposed to move onto cynical targeting of Pocock this week?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 12:16pm
                piru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                It’s exhausting isn’t it Paulo

                I honestly don’t think most people read the comment they are replying to

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 2:47pm
                tsuru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                Actually, Piru & Paulo I think, in this case at least, the problem is that we have a lot of people within 100 or so comments making similar points and some people don’t read them all as it all seems the same. I understand that as I’ve been looking through to try to find an appropriate place to pose my serious questions – so I may as well ask here.

                Has this “dangerous technique” of Folau’s (and I agree that he had to be penalised under the current laws) just developed since the opposition started single man lifts to defend against him? Did he get pinged in the past when players were just trying to individually out-jump him? He’s been valued for his jumping since he came to rugby, but I don’t recall any problems being voiced until now. Or am I just getting old and forgetful?

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 5:22pm
                Paulo said | July 2nd 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                Hi Tsuru, good point about the same comments hammering the points. I am guilty of repeating myself too I’m afraid.

                Good question about Folau’s technique. I don’t think it is a new technique, as I don’t think lifting players is in any way new either. As far as I am aware, using him for kick offs is a relatively new tactic, and that has brought him into contact with lifted players. Until now, lifted players and Folau haven’t really competed too much from memory.

                This was really a perfect storm of events, of a tightly contested series, a smart tactic of a Folau kick off, and an equally smart counter tactic. Clumsy lift and contact in the air (x3), YC on and off the field resulting in one match ban. All back lit by the Fall/BB
                mess from a week earlier. Realistically, this was a clumsy collision and Folau is seen to do something illegal within the tangle. He unfortunately cops the sanction.

                Queue the aggrieved masses calling for rule changes and bias conspiracies with the judiciary.

              • Roar Guru

                July 2nd 2018 @ 6:11pm
                jeznez said | July 2nd 2018 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

                Previously the Tahs used to use AAC to chase kick-offs. Then they went to a full team chase and only this season have they increased the number of attacking kick chases for Folau.

                I think we just haven’t seen him being used in this role as much as he has this season so the issue of trailing arms is only now becoming more apparent.

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 6:26pm
                Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

                Jeznez, the issue of poor support by lifters is also more apparent as the height of the lift increases and the willingness to contest it is increased.
                Lifting tackles has all onus on lifter to return player safely to the ground, and they disregard any bump that players from either team may have had on causing the fall or upright position to begin with.

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:48pm
                Reverse Wheel said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

                Guilty of skimming over the same people saying the same thing over and over again, yep. Apparently the art of winning an argument is just to repeat yourself until the other party gives up in boredom.

                Here’s the thing. You haven’t convinced me that this wasn’t primarily Stander’s fault for not being able to hold a lift when there’s some inevitable and minor contact in the contest for the ball. Your stills and slo mos prove nothing because when you watch at speed it’s abundantly clear that there was no time for Folau to make any conscious decision and so any contact had to be inadvertent. Even spiro knows that but his agenda doesn’t allow him to directly admit it, so he has to go with tacit acknowledgment. If it’s inadvertent then it has to be ok, and if a fair contest is causing a player to be put in danger then the one causing the danger should be sanctioned. In this case, that’s Stander. If you can’t lift safely in the face of minor contact in the contest then fix the flaw in your technique or else don’t lift.

                Meanwhile, the only official who has actively found Folau guilty is the citing officer. All the match day officials submitted written statements saying it was ok. The judiciary applied the burden of guilt before innocence and required Folau to prove the citing officer got it wrong, rather than the other way round. Read the findings. They decided he couldn’t prove his innocence and so suspended him. If you don’t see how jacked up that is then I can’t help you. The appeals tribunal likewise required Folau to prove that an error was made. So let’s ditch the rhetoric about all the officials finding him guilty because it didn’t happen, it was one guy.

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:39pm
                Jacko said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                Reverse wheel that is the problem…You arnt convinced Folau was wrong even tho the judicial system has found him guilty twice of the same offence…once at the hearing and the second time at the appeal…Yet you still refuse to see the grab when watching the video…Well if you refuse to see the obvious the arguement is pointless. It is proven beyond doubt that what he did was illegal…accept it and move on…

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:55pm
                Steve T said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

                Jacko, you do realize the onfield ref and TMO did not find his actions a cardable offence, and the judiciary only gave a 1 week ban that would in any other circumstance, such as obvious guilt, he would have got 6 weeks. Even in their slanted attempt to look like they are doing something to fix the problem, they know there was much more involved in the fall, and holding the lifter to account is strangely not a fashionable approach at the moment.

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:25am
        Cynical Play said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Agree C33

        Pocock gets 3 weeks for a neck roll in 2016 but a neck roll on him gets a warning in 2018. Ah, yes…it was a kiwi doing it hence the softer strap

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:16am
          Mapu said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          Do you listen to your self or at least read your garbage

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 1:04pm
            Cynical Play said | July 2nd 2018 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

            Ha. You bit. More fool you.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 2:35pm
            Lorry said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

            Before Richie was redcarded a year or two ago, it had been 40 years since, with Colin Mead being the last Kiwi sent off.

            If that’s not clear bias, then I don’t know what is. It’s not a conspiracy at all, toss fact.

            • July 2nd 2018 @ 4:52pm
              Morsie said | July 2nd 2018 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

              SBW Lions 2017………

              • Roar Rookie

                July 2nd 2018 @ 4:58pm
                piru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

                deleted

            • Roar Rookie

              July 2nd 2018 @ 5:00pm
              piru said | July 2nd 2018 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

              If that’s not clear bias, then I don’t know what is. It’s not a conspiracy at all, toss fact.

              It’s a number with no context – unless you are arguing that red card incidents went unpunished.

              Which incidents should have had red cards but didn’t?

              • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:51pm
                Reverse Wheel said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

                Richard Loe on Paul Carozza doesn’t even take a moment’s reflection.

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:42pm
                Jacko said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

                RW on your logic carozza should have got a red card for lying on the ground. Ban sliding in for an attempted try

              • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:59pm
                Steve T said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

                Very much a strawman argument there Jacko.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 2:46pm
            Cynical Play said | July 2nd 2018 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 9:45pm
            Mapu said | July 2nd 2018 @ 9:45pm | ! Report

            Well that’s not cynical play…more like deceiving play.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:50am
          Jacko said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          CP yes…100%…..Every official in the game hates Australia so much that every possible opportunity they get they make wrong decisions just so Aus rugby and its players suffer major losses is a opportunity taken….Refs plot the very downfall of all Aus teams and all Aus players…This is actually a new law introduced to make sure Aus never win another game ever and all their players are suspended for years…Its so real….no conspiracy at all…blah blah blah

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:53am
          ethan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

          My favourite of the series, Hooper gets neck rolled and tipped directly on his head, yet only a penalty is awarded against Ireland because, in the words of the referee, “He didn’t finish him off”.

          Law 2.3.1: An Irish player shall only be carded for dangerous play in the event of decapitation, death, or paralysis. (Ref obviously forgot this law in game three).

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:59am
          Jerry said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

          It wasn’t so much a neck roll in 2016, more a guillotine choke MMA style….

      • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:50am
        ethan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        That’s a fair point about Read’s technique. So World Rugby are saying you can’t lay a single hand on a guys shoulder, but you can essentially shoulder charge them? And how about that Irish example as posted by Folau’s wife. Spiro rubbishes it, yet I disagree. Ireland player clearly wraps both hands around Folau’s waist and brings him to ground while Folau is in the air. That is dangerous play every day of the week. Yet not even a penalty? That’s before we even get started on the complexities of the French red card, non red card situation.

        And much as I don’t like to see coaches moaning about the law, in this instance I agree with them. There needs to be more clarity around this. At the current time it seems a complete lottery as to how the referee will rule it, not to mention that it may be changed after the game.

        My best understanding at the moment: You cannot lay a hand on them while they are in the air, but you can lay a shoulder or some part of your torso, so long as you are going for the ball, and so long as you are mid jump. If you are only preparing to jump, and wearing a blue jersey, you may or may not receive a red card. If you are mid jump you must remember not to lay a hand on them, but if you are wearing a green jersey it is ok to wrap both arms around them and complete the tackle. If you are lucky and they land ok, you will not be penalised, but if you are unlucky and they land over the horizontal, you will receive anywhere from a warning to a red card, depending on how many drinks you brought the referee that week. This shall henceforth be referred to as the luck law, but shall in no way call into question bias, or incompetence.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 11:55am
          Reverse Wheel said | July 2nd 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Spiro argues that it wasn’t dangerous yet it landed Folau on his shoulder which could easily have been dislocated. We need to be punishing for actions not outcomes anyway.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 12:02pm
            ethan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            Exactly right mate, actions not outcomes.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 12:00pm
          Jerry said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Essentially shoulder charge them? What a load.

          • July 2nd 2018 @ 12:09pm
            ethan said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

            Have you watched him play mate? Takes a 10m run up and jumps straight into their torso, while they are in mid air, shoulder first. Now he is clearly going for the ball, and if he misses, is usually not far off, but fact remains that there is contact while the opposition player is in the air.

            Personally, under current laws, I think his technique is fair play, as it is a genuine attempt at the ball, and rugby is a contact sport after all. The problem is, there is no consistency in the way these air challenges are ruled. We can see Read miss the ball, collect the player, and (sometimes) receive no penalty against, and (always) see no card. Yet we see Folau get the ball, but also touch the players shoulder, and (sometimes) receive a yellow card. We can see an Irishman tackle a Wallaby in the air without laying a hand anywhere close to the ball and receive not even a penalty against.

      • July 3rd 2018 @ 7:32pm
        Jacko said | July 3rd 2018 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

        It makes you wonder how the ABs won so many of the past bledisloe’s when folau was playing…Did he forget he could jump?… If Ireland can overcome your superman then I will back the ABs to do the same….Folau’s rugby skills shopuld be more than the ability to jump…maybe he should try practising other stuff so he can be a decent player instead of a 1 trick pony

    • July 2nd 2018 @ 7:34am
      Daveski said | July 2nd 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      I also agree. Though Spiro giving more air to this is in many ways no different to the fox commentators he mocks or the print journos goading Daryl Gibson.

      But yes, we should get over and maybe be a bit more concerned about the inaction / beating with a feather against those perpetrating neck rolls and judo throws on Pocock.

    • Roar Guru

      July 2nd 2018 @ 8:43am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | July 2nd 2018 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Spiro, I agree with the view that Israel erred by touching OMahony on the way down. It ended badly for PO’M.
      The outcome meant that he had to do time.
      However your inference that Folau was the sole cause of danger and injury to O’Mahony is disingenuous (Folau) ‘effectively topples him’.
      No Spiro, Folau made contact with a player already at risk from an over-stretched lift. We will never know how much ‘topple’ Izzy’s contact had on the brave Irish captain who, with Schmidt came up with a clever ploy to neutralise the best jumper in the game.

      • Roar Guru

        July 2nd 2018 @ 10:29am
        taylorman said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        True, we never will know…Folau put an end to that.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 10:33am
          Steve T said | July 2nd 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Actually taylorman, the officials will put an end to it and any chance of having a fair contest in the air.

        • July 2nd 2018 @ 12:09pm
          JP said | July 2nd 2018 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

          Don`t be so fickle. Move on

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