Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Tale of Two Match Reviews

Depending upon your dedication to all things Rugby, your appreciation of the finer intricacies of the game and your understanding of the black arts of scrimmage, last weekend's match between the Queensland Reds and the NSW Waratahs was either the greatest thing in sport since William Webb Ellis thought to himself "Bugger this for a joke" or the most tedious thing in sport since the last soccer World Cup which was the most tedious thing in sport since the previous World Cup etc etc.

The Rolling Maul watched an intense battle between two fired up teams. Trench warfare where each centimetre could only be won by the taking of no prisoners, incurring vast numbers of your own casualties, and the spilling of lots of blood (and speaking of which if you want to see what happened to Drew Mitchell's leg and what the results were click here - warning: it's awesome). The Maul saw tactics and battle plans and "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu wrought large on the footy field.

But others with only a passing interest in Rugby or with less patience or the intellectual capacity to appreciate the finer point of the game (let's call them Rugby League fans) have indicated they watched a dour and boring struggle between two snorting packs of mindless rhinos determined to outdo each other in the penalty stakes, where negative play triumphed over a lack of imagination and even Quade Cooper (except for taking advantage of the defensive lapse to end all defensive lapses) was reduced to that of an error ridden incompetent. Where has beens and never wases proved they really weren't up to the task and apart from dented egos the most serious injuries on the night were as a result of accident or poor technique.

And therein lies the dilemma for Rugby; appeal to the masses or the converted. In Rugby's efforts to be attractive to everyone the rules have been tinkered with sometimes to the extreme (such as the ELVs and the embracing of 7s), marketing has focussed on more attractive members of the playing fraternity (ie backs) and tournaments have been developed to satisfy the demands of television rather than the preferences of spectators (Super Rugby).

Commentators have celebrated the brutalness of the Reds - Tahs match (yes Greg Growden, we're talking about you) but they should realise that their blinkered view of the game from the perfect media seats right on halfway may not match those catching the occasional glimpse on (cable only) TV in the pub or sitting in the cheap seats.

Players on the park too might want to contemplate the fact that if your forwards aren't doing the job no matter how much you perceive the dominance of your pack, and when you have a star-studded, young, imaginative and highly-paid backline then it may satisfy all sorts of tactical, technical and aesthetic requirements to spin the ball wide occasionally rather than spend 15 minutes parked on the opposition's tryline.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Rugby - The 'Fine' Points

When the Brumbies lost to the Rebels a couple of weeks back despite outscoring them three tries to one it triggered a torrent of debate about the relative value of a try in Rugby. But amongst all the squealing for more points for tries or less for penalties and field goals an important factor was missed - penalising boring play on the scoreboard and rewarding exciting play.

So the Rolling Maul presents a Rugby scoring system that will enliven the game, keep the ball in hand, and bring back the crowds (especially those who like calculators anyway)...

- Try scored from first phase play (scrum, lineout, kick return etc) - 100 points
- Try scored from second phase - 95 points
- Try scored from third phase - 90 points
- And so on - for example a try after 10 phases of boring pick and drive and pointless charges at the gain line will only be worth 50 points. This will encourage players to avoid being tackled and throw the ball around, encourage daring sweeping backline movements, invention and creativity.
- Try scored from a kick (any kick) - as above minus 20 points. The bomb is a blight on the game and makes - Rugby look like League. So do grubber kicks into the in-goal area. Treat them accordingly.
- Conversion from right in front - 10 points. Move along - nothing to see here.
- Conversion from between the posts and the 5 metre line from the side - 15 points. Should get these.
- Conversion from the sideline (the channel) - 25 points. Nice one.
- Penalty kick from within the 22 - 10 points. We haven't paid good money to watch you bend over and stare at the sticks before trying to outstare the Gilbert.
- Penalty kick from between the 22 and half way - 20 points.
- Penalty kick from beyond half way - 30 points. OK, that's impressive.
- Field goal from within the 22 - 2 points. If you can't score a try from here you don't deserve much credit.
- Field goal from between the 22 and half way - 10 points. Yeah big deal.
- Field goal from beyond half way - 25 points. Wow.
- Win a scrum or lineout on the first set - 10 points. Not only will this encourage scrums to pack properly but all lineouts will be contested. Not contesting lineouts is cowardly and weak, an admittance of defeat. You want the points, jump.
- Win a scrum or lineout on the second set (after a reset) - 5 points
- Win a scrum or lineout on the third set (after another reset) - 1 point
- Win a scrum or lineout after more than 2 resets - tough. You don't deserve any points for that appalling behaviour and lack of technique.
- Cause a scrum to collapse or be reset (as determined by the referee) - minus 10 points. Nothing is more boring in Rugby than lost minutes for scrum resets.
- Kick out on the full - minus 5 points (yep, even from within your 22). Rugby is a ball in hand game.
- Knock-on - minus 1 point (the penalty for causing a scrum) - would be more but the Waratahs on a bad day could lose 100 points this way as it is.
- Forward pass - minus 2 points for stupidity.
- Having cheerleaders - 20 points

- Scoring a cheerleader(!) - 100 points
- Singing the National Anthem - 1 point per player that sings