Dear English Rugby Supporter

Dear English Rugby Supporter,

The Rolling Maul would like to express its sincerest congratulations, really, on making the Rugby World Cup final. Your forwards put on a wonderful display of scrummaging, counter rucking, mauling and defence. It was a lesson to all Rugby teams out there, especially the Wallabies.

The commitment to the cause was also impressive as your boys put their bodies on the line, and that includes Jonny Wilkinson who seems to have finally come good in the injury department and that can only be a good thing for those who want to see the best players out on the park.

For the Rugby purist, and that includes the Rolling Maul, such forward displays are what stirs us at our deepest levels. No other sport can so brutally expose weakness. The combination of raw power with pinpoint technique is a beautiful thing even for us mere mortals who can't see what's going on let alone understand Ben Darwin's explanations.

But (and it is a big but and that's no pun about the engine rooms of the English front row) Rugby was designed to be a running game. William Webb Ellis picked the ball up, tucked it under his arm and ran with it, he didn't run it towards his forwards and set up another ruck (and he didn't kick the ball straight up in the air either - The Rolling Maul isn't crying for Argentina).

What's the point of building a platform to just go ahead and build another platform? Where were the sweeping backline movements to contrast the brute power?

Rugby is an aesthetes game. The beauty of a flowing backline linking across the field with forwards in tow and making vital contributions up the middle is what the game is designed for. If we wanted to watch hulking mammoths run headlong into each other for ruck upon ruck (the infamous pick and drive) before putting up a bomb we'd watch Rugby League.

Now don't get me wrong. England defeated the Wallabies and rightly so. The Wallabies once cherished the running game, piloted at Randwick and honed to perfection by the Ella brothers. But the Wallabies haven't really played a running game since George Gregan last played for Randwick and that would have been about 1999, coincidentally when Australia last won the Rugby World Cup. Australia's backs are being wasted and that is an even greater shame than the demise of the forwards.

So good luck to England in the final, but it would be a travesty if England won and won ugly and even greater travesty if South Africa, with their fantastic back line, resorted to such dastardly tactics. Players, spectators, administrators and referees need games to flow. Stop-start ruck and scrummaging penalties and re sets do nothing to promote the game to itself or to potential and current audiences.

Of course forward play and defence is and should be important. As the final of the Australian Rugby Championships showed, you can play expansive attractive winning rugby, but even with the new Stellenbosch Rules (and all power to them), it was defence and forward power that won the game for the Central Coast Rays who made more than twice as many tackles as the Melbourne Rebels. And as Fiji and the other Pacific island nations demonstrated, running the ball without structure and forward support might look good and score the occasional spectacular try but it won't win you a World Cup.

Alas, winning ugly is probably the only way that England can win. England has some great backs, Jason Robinson is a very special player and deserves more ball, but he won't get it.

If winning ugly is what it takes to win then it's the game that is at fault, not its proponents. The new laws are a good start, but shifting attitudes is even more important and that will only come when teams like Australia and New Zealand throw off the shackles and teams like England and Argentina start trusting and developing their backs. At the very least for the good of the game give it a try - you might score some.

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