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ozxile

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Joined September 2008

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Gatesy;
Much improved match commentary is critical to the promotion and success of the game in the US There is a lot at stake here for the investors and rugby. Good commentators do much to enhance a viewer’s impressions and likelihood of becoming fans. Bad ones are a curse.
The matches I watched last season all ended up with the sound muted. The commentary is far, far worse than listening to the Fox crew gush over a Waratah’s match. I’ve a low tolerance threshold for the standard US style – fill every moment with noise – for rugby, much of it naive, ill-informed and hyperbolic – ‘that was a brilliant play Bob!’. Seriously? Didn’t see much at the WC.
There is a lot of money being spent to promote the game. Some of it should go to finding and developing high quality commentators. Here (almost everywhere) they drag out a retired international or ex-whatever and a sycophant colleague to ruin the match with blah blah.
Internationals aren’t inherently good at everything else. A small minority of them become good coaches. A smaller minority become good match analysts and commentators – those few who can analyze a match in progress, articulate what they see coherently, speak well, and know when to shut up.
With the exception of Greg Gowdin the Fox bunch is a mob of talking heads with accents. NZ has better commentary from unknowns on the sidelines in the Mitre 10 competition. The same can be said for the NRC. Some of the Roarers here would probably do a better job as well. Surely the game deserves better front women and men.
Back to your excellent review of US developments. Any insights on how Canada is going, and perhaps prospects for an integrated 4 conference set-up with their top players involved? US teams in NE and teams in Canada’s SE; and, US teams in NW and Canada’s W/SW would seem to make more sense than a Canadian internal comp. It might make more sense for the US as well.
Cheers.

US Major League Rugby enters its third season

KP:
LAW 19. 20. 15 (f.)
When both sides are square, stable and stationary, the scrum-half throws in the ball:
f. Straight. The scrum-half may align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, thereby standing a shoulder-width closer to their side of the scrum.

This ‘option’ has resulted in what is the essentially a rugby league put-in – rarely straight and often as not behind the hookers feet.

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Stillmissit: In my experience (as a hooker and referee) neither hooker striking almost always results/resulted in the ball coming out the other side of the tunnel. This did happen when both hookers weren’t settled and ready for the ball to be put in…but in it came straight down the middle and out it went on the other side.
If you could get this (no hooking) tried/implemented it seems likely to me that the props would be required to use their outside foot to ‘close’ the open tunnel. This was essentially the norm way back – when winning the ball was a contest between two hookers and their respective collaborating props – at its best a moment of skill and beauty in an otherwise brief and brutal smash-up. Both the loose and tight heads (at least for the team with the ball) would start with the inside leg & foot set slightly back, momentarily bearing most of the weight; then the outside foot would step/lurch forward (and optimally plant in the middle of the tunnel) when the ball left the scrum half’s hands and the weight came on – all to prevent the ball coming coming straight out.
With no hooking, the only outcomes I can imagine would be:
(1) both props on the opposite side (if not both sides) of the put-in given a de facto license to bore in – a natural result of the offset positioning of their feet;
(2) the extinction of ‘hookers’ in favor of another prop-like full time pusher; and,
(3) more and increasingly dangerous collapsing

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Sinclair: Likewise. Thanks for reading and comments.

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Mark: All the instruction, cameras, etc. are in place at the top level and we still have a mess – not available as we go further down the line. Is there really any study that shows props boring in or not packing squarely causes scrum collapses? Props getting too low surely contributes to instability, but it isn’t the really the problem. Two props squatting down and driving into each other aren’t inherently unstable or inherently dangerous. Its when they are leaning in with their bodies at 30 degrees to the ground with weight behind them that they get unstable. At that point it takes very little to have them go up or, mostly down. Ref admonitions notwithstanding, there is nothing about current scrum mechanics or the governing law that effectively addresses prevention or mitigation of modern scrum instability. Your comments make a very good case for the inefficiency of relying on the threats and enticements of penalties, i.e. the perceptions of the referee. Shouldn’t we try to render the issue moot by stabilizing the core of the scrum and just get the ball back in play quickly and safely?

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Querry: Over the years the scrums at the top level of the game have devolved into a phenomenon that more resembles sumo wrestling than a contest for the ball – from which channel and when the winning team wants it. As players got bigger and stronger, all the band-aide adjustments (with the exception of the Crouch – Bind – Set protocol) have have been ‘played’ to make things worse. What was once a contest that restarted the game – usually with minimal fuss and repetition – has become an increasingly annoying and dangerous waste of time. If we don’t fix the scrum now the next IRB knee-jerk reaction will be to trial taking away the option of a scrum for a crooked line-out throw in a retrograde reaction to the mess they have ‘designed’ the scrum to become – too dangerous and time-consuming.

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Mzilikazi. Thank you for actually reading the article. I do think the hookers could easily do as I suggest. Way back the laws actually said the hooker had to be in’ a position to hook’ – essentially balanced in a crouch position. This wording was to preclude a hooker from extending a leg (or both) into the opponent’s front row to drag a lost ball back – easily contered with a knee drop into the opposite’s groin. Cross-over hooking as you describe it was (is?) common. However, it was a fool’s game inasmuch as it gave away the proximity advantage afforded by the loose head put-in. A left foot stab with a slightly bent knee at the opposing tight head’s left foot was closer, faster and blocked (not hooked) the ball back with a little sweep to assist. The same stab worked brilliantly against a cross-over hooker on a tight head put-in. I rarely ever pushed in a scrum. If you start in the position I have described it is not difficult to stay there – even if there is movement. If everyone else is pushing it is relatively easy for a ref to see the hooker’s body position and where their feet are – the two hookers should be in the middle. If not, and the ball isn’t out cleanly, and quickly someone gets a penalty. This will work.

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

No hooker (or sane prop) wants a collapsed scrum – even to win a big match. The lottery to which In Brief refers is played by a collective ‘blood-rush’ to the head by rest of the pack. When the packs are so low there is only enough room to put the ball in, the scrum is not stable, period! Yes, it looks amazing – like a cleverly engineered bridge with too long a span – unstable, fragile and dangerous. A hooker, in a squat position or even on her/his knees could prevent a collapse and give time to get the ball out. I don’t remember the 2007 ELV to which you refer. If it did fix something why didn’t they implement it?

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Yes.
However, if the hookers are required to keep their feet below or in front of their hips to stabilize/hold up the front row neither will be able push – so 7 vs 7 – a ‘fair’ contest.

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

Purdo; This would eliminate the 8 man shove but not the spectacle of a contested scrum. I’d hate to see scrums de-powered. This does not do that. It would just stiffen them up and make it more clear which team should be penalized if it went down. The issue of reducing hooker injuries is a significant bonus. Current scrum mechanics leave the hooker in a helpless position when the scrum collapses. An earlier article (not mine) suggesting a time-out for scrums is no more than a band-aide – waiting longer for an injury. This idea might might just address the real issue – low, powerful scrums just aren’t reliably stable and too easy to bring down, reset, repeat.

How to fix rugby's biggest scrum problem

The Giteau rule is a parochial anachronism.
We should be sending players North, not just to develop their skills and rugby nous, but also to get some of the arrogance and complacency thumped out of them – starting right now with Michael Hooper.
Rugby Australia (RA) pays Michael Hooper’s ludicrous salary. For the sake of Australian rugby RA should work something out to send him to…Leinster for a year and then to…Toulon for a second year. Make him develop in an environment where he is not the chosen one; and, where he is expected to play the role for which he is paid. If he has to convince a couple of practical, hard-nosed coaches the #7 jersey is his perhaps he will come back as a bona fide #7, or a give it up and become a mediocre #11/14.
Defense of the Giteau rule is also myopic. The argument that there are only a couple players worth bringing back right now is meaningless. In 3 years time there may be a dozen.
Every Wallaby plays their 1st game sometime. Teenagers have been selected and played for the Wallabies – because they were good enough. It certainly could not be said that they’d demonstrated some arbitrary measure of loyalty to Australia; furthermore, when selected they almost always pushed out someone with a long history in the gold jersey (but that didn’t matter a wit); and, their selection invariably ended the dreams of numerous solid journeymen who could have gone overseas and improved their games and fortunes but didn’t – because they deceived themselves into thinking they would develop at home, and that the system was ‘fair’, so they held out hope of eventually being called up.
Is it realistic to expect a large pool of players to accumulate 60 games before going overseas while still developing so they can be enticed back when fully mature and still playing their best rugby? No, it isn’t. Not today and not in any foreseeable future. There simply aren’t enough test matches to go around. There aren’t even enough Super Rugby matches to go around.
If we as fans and RA want the best, then it is expedient, particularly in World Cup (WC) years, to select overseas Australian players who are arguably better than their domestic counterparts. Availability for selection for the EOYT prior to a WC year, and half or a full season of Super Rugby to showcase themselves should easily be enough to evaluate and integrate them into the system for WC selection.
It is wrong to argue/speculate that RA needs a de facto ‘trade restraint’ to prevent all the good players from going North and leaving Australian rugby a wasteland. First of all the market for potential talent isn’t large enough to gut the SANZAR+AR and South Pacific player pool. Secondly, contrary to academic economic theory, not all actors/players are rational and not all resources/players are mobile.
If New Zealand’s top 30 players were all rational and mobile most would have been playing somewhere up North before this last WC. Most will eventually get there, but for many the irrational lure of playing in the black jersey postpones that adventure until they’ve played their best at home.
The financial incentives are important. However, the current state of Australian rugbyy has depreciated the lure of the gold jersey, and the clearly delusional fantasy of actually winning 60 test caps – before a player’s career is truly over – are the root causes of the current, objectively modest, player exodus. It is totally rational for the young, talented, and mobile to take advantage of a sure thing overseas when offered.
It will be equally rational for RA to scrap the Giteau rule and make reasonable provisions to welcome them home if and when they are needed.

Why the Giteau Law has to be fit for purpose in 2020

Agreed, the Boks blew it – more specifically the coaching staff, Kolisi and all the rest of them who let Faf de Klerk continue to kick the ball away to ABs. His kicking was abysmal.
What were they thinking, that they would nullify one of the best counter-attacking teams on the planet by giving them all the ball to practice with?
What particular element of de Klerk’s game justified letting him kick possession away; his defense, offense…tactical nous? Rubbish – he’s one of the most overrated players in the tournament. Did he do even one thing in that match that Herschel Jantjies could not have done just as well – in addition to Jantjies keeping the ABs guessing with his sniping away at set pieces?
If de Klerk had been pulled at 1/2 time (at the latest) this whole discussion could have been focused on the AB’s mistakes failure to adjust to the x-factor Jantjies brings with him.

Boks blow it against All Blacks

‘…if they can beat the Hurricanes at home, they clearly have the depth for at least two teams while remaining competitive’. Seriously? Take a break and reload mate.

Phil Kearns reckons the Jaguares should not be in Super Rugby

John, Michael Ruru was the revelation of the weekend for me. It is great to see that you noticed him as well. In addition to slipping in seamlessly with Cooper, he appeared to be calm, clever and quick on his feet. His service was precise and intelligent. He is also a big unit. Assuming Genia sits out at least the next game, it would be good to see him show up Phipps/Gordon this coming weekend. A performance to draw some attention away from Phipps, Gordon, McDermott and Powell, would be good for Australian rugby. None of them have me hopeful, let alone convinced, they are credible stand-ins for Genia.

Super Rugby Team of the Week: Round 15

If someone will set up a GoFundMe (or Australian equivalent) account to pay for an interim coach, I’m in with at least $100 USD.

England stuff the Wallabies - again

David
Spot on…until you mentioned the second half of the match in Salta.
Had Sanchez been fit to play that would have been a very different 40 minutes of rugby. What happened there said more about the importance of Sanchez to the Pumas than anything about the Wallabies
The Beale/Ashley-Cooper debacle is reflection of the state of Rugby Australia (RA) and the Wallabies (WBs). Together, a pile of putrescent rubbish.
RA is a feckless mob of self-serving talking heads.
Cheika and his staff have no clues, let alone a plan, and they have lost the trust and respect of the players.
‘Team’ is a meaningless label attached to the collections of individuals Cheika trots out in the Green & Gold test after test. Judge them by what you see, and what you see is predominantly self-absorbtion, complacency and incompetence.
There is no urgency to the way they play, no pride in the jersey they wear, and, notwithstanding the inept coaching, no shame for the inexcusably mindless performances they routinely produce.

England stuff the Wallabies - again

Selections for Salta are out. Same rubbish different test.

There are no synergies from playing Michael Hooper at #7 and David Pocock #8. Hooper doesn’t actually play anywhere in particular but shows up (and was shown up in the 1st minute last week) mostly in the backs.

Meanwhile Pocock is overworked and his natural game compromised. The Wallabies lose the skills, height and power of a specialist #8. Cheika’s persistance with this sub-optimal pairing hurts the Wallabies and benefits only their opponents. Pocock, at his current burn rate (on a hiding to nothing), will be lucky to make it to the WC.

Bench Hooper. Pocock starts – knowing he has approximately 45 minutes to play himself off his peak. Then, before he slips down his performance curve, replace him with Hooper. Preserve Pocock for another day. Give Hooper 35 minutes to show us what $6 million buys – but make him play like a real #7.

Captain? Matt Toomua is cool head and an instinctive organizer. Clearly the best choice on offer but he ‘lost’ the battle for #10 (between Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale – go figure that out) so is sitting on the bench this week.

Of course all big tests need impact players on the bench so Foley’s mate, Nick Phipps is given another gratuitous opportunity for a cap. If there was any objectivity in selections both Foley and Phipps would be on the bench for their respective NRC teams this week.

Cheika: Beale flyhalf experiment over

The first ‘brain farc’ was Will Genia’s pass to Kurtley Beale when he had fullback Dane Haylett-Petty directly behind him in-goal. Beale compounded that error by cutting out Reese Hodge and throwing a long, soft floater in the direction of Michael Hooper. Try Springboks! Had Genia passed to Haylett-Petty, the ball would have been easily kicked to touch.

Look at the replay over and over. Does it appear that the Wallabies were ever structured to play defense? Not so much. It looks far more like this was a something they’d cooked up in advance – for somewhere else on the pitch. They were set to run the ball and the Hodge cut-out was Beale’s off script mistake.

This might have made sense as a last minute attempt to score a needed try, but…in the first minute of the match? Who coaches this rubbish.

Beale blunder costs Wallabies against Boks

At first glance this looks an improvement.
However, the suits need to sort out the red card issues first.
When a red card decision takes opinions from 4 refs and a couple mins of reviewing slow motion video there is a lot more to fix than a yellow-red-black card system can handle.
An afterthought: this would probably just be a license to hand out more red cards and further increase the refs’ potential influence on what is left of the game.

A solution to rugby's red card problem

Did not see 3rd Test until Sunday night Australian E.T. What follows is what I wrote w/o the benefit of Spiro’s comments and the rest of the others’ expert insight. Maybe redundant, maybe not. In response to the Spiro’s title alone,I say it isn’t just a ‘playmaker’ we need at #10 – we need someone who will play a full 80 minutes slogging out the hard work like the remaining 14 players.

*****

Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps have to go – individually, and even more so as a combination. They’ve had enough Test matches to show they are not good enough. Probably not even 2nd or 3rd choices for any country that aspires to a #1 ranking and a 3rd World Cup title.

What are the selectors thinking when they pick these two – that the WBs can play and win with only 14 players on the pitch? In the 2nd test we saw an example of exactly that – Koroibete’s 10 mins in the bin combined with Foley’s 70 min walkabout. 14 against 15 – a good effort by the WBs (that actually played) but no joy!

Foley has his moments. Say,10 minutes a game. The rest of the time he is MIA. In the 1st test he wore #10 but mostly passed to the de facto #10 Beale (who actually plays 80 mins). What else did he do? It certainly wasn’t running the ball at his opposite. He definitely did not applying any pressure, let alone tackle them. In the 2nd test Foley seemed to flit around like a 7s sweeper doing who knows what. He was most visible marking the opposing hooker at LOs and chatting up the assistant ref on the left wing.

More critically, Foley is a mediocre kicker. He cannot place kick or punt far enough to worry any major opponent. His place kicking stats are deceptive rubbish. He takes the close ones and, for good reason, isn’t offered anything else. In the 2nd and 3rd tests against Ireland, the WBs turned down a number of long range penalty kicks because Foley is only good for 30-35 m. and hardly deadly at that range. That shortcoming, if nothing else, should worry the selectors. A long penalty kick at goal that goes dead or into the stands – even if missed – can change the game. The forwards get a break and the restart is another possession.

In the closing minutes of the 3rd test the WBs were playing for an Irish penalty anywhere within 60 m. of the Irish goal line…because Reece Hodge was finally on the pitch. Anyone out there naive enough to think the Irish hadn’t noticed? Hodge wouldn’t need to be much of a #10 to be better value than Foley.

Phipps is busy but he is not quick enough, fast enough, or creative enough to worry anyone at test level. Trying hard doesn’t count in big matches. To his credit Phipps plays his heart out. You get 100% but it isn’t enough.

The game immediately looked different in the few minutes that Joe Powell was on to replace Phipps. He was just as busy as Phipps and looked much more alert, purposeful and skilful. He made a good fist of a monster pass that had to be made but wasn’t to be. Powell also took one useful run, and seemed generally unintimidated by the intensity of those last few minutes of such high stakes match.

Selectors – 15 (23) real players please.

Wallabies heartbreak loss to Ireland shows need for a playmaker at No.10

The ONLY reason there is any controversy about this RC is the apparently lack of injury to the tackled player. The tackle meets every definition of what constitutes a RC offense. Let this tackle go and you’d being seeing it used in defense of myriad egregious violations at all levels of the game all over the world. The slightest change in angle of impact could have been disastrous for the player and for the game, RC or not. Do we need even one more quadriplegic ex-rugby player? If it was your son, daughter, spouse, teammate, friend would you be so quick to defend it? Allegedly ‘ruining(?)’ this particular match is a pathetic argument for downplaying an incident that could easily have been a disaster for the game itself. If the tackled player had been seriously injured the RC would not have been controversial, but more importantly it would not have made his injuries better either.The IRB has it right – best not to take any chances.

Roland was thinking clearly and should be commended for making the call irrespective of the consequences for this game and these two teams.

Warburton's red card for spear tackle a joke! [video]

Moaman, you tell him that when you send him off. He’s just spent ten frustrating minutes in the bin stewing about letting his mates down. If Mssr Poite paid more attention to his real job Kittshoff would not have been coming back from the bin – it was gratuitous.

The worst team of Rugby World Cup week one

Pothale:

Re: Who made the WC squad?

In starting XV vs Samoa

Sekope Kepu
Stephen Moore
Ben Alexander
Nathan Sharpe
Rocky Elsom
Ben McCalman
Nick Phipps
Digby Ioane
Pat McCabe
Adam Ashley-Cooper

Bench

Dan Vickerman
Scott Higginbotham
Will Genia
Kurtley Beale

Destructive dark horse of Rugby World Cup

Lion R: This is about being a captain. Perhaps if he wasn’t ‘mildly distracted’ by this nuisance responsibility he would be in better form? I’m inclined to think so. He wasn’t burdened by such when he was tearing things up for Leinster. We can only hope he’ll find that kind of form in the next month.

Why Richie McCaw is a great captain

WHM: I appreciate the indulgence of having a go at this. It doesn’t really answer the question but it does provide a structured perspective. It would be interesting to now see what others think of your assessment. I had not given the alternative much thought but cannot find fault with your assessment. JH in 3rd will probably give a few Roarers a mild rash.

Without meaning to argue the point, I find your score of 9 on Rugby Nous for Genia interesting. I recall reading somewhere that he did not play rugby (contrast to JH and DP) until he went to high school (BBC in Brisbane?). Not sure where he was before then, but there is relatively little rugby played in PNG. Before going to boarding school I’d never seen it.

Why Richie McCaw is a great captain