How To Ensure Awesome Rugby

Rugby at its finest is a beautiful game. As much an art as a sport. It can be a pleasure to behold, an aesthetic delight to celebrate man (or woman) at his (or her) finest, the perfect combination of power, grace and skill.

But at its worst it is a dirge. A grunting, fumbling, shambolic, stop-start fumble-fest. And don't even get started on the scrums.

Many solutions have been sought to ensure that Rugby is played with the spectator is mind - a place where entertainment meets performance and extreme passion is reflected in perfect execution. On such solution is as simple as reducing the number of players on the field to open spaces and encourage running Rugby, but as any fan knows, that is the realm of Rugby League and Rugby League is only one-step (or maybe even less) from touch football and should be avoided at all costs.

Yet reducing the number of players could still be the solution. here's how...

So forget the debates about playing with teams of 7, 9, 10 or 13. The most thrilling matches this season have been when teams get 2 yellow / red cards and at the time they’re defending a small lead. The Force were brilliant against the Highlanders with two in the bin two weeks ago in holding out and winning at the bell. The Reds were gallant in defeat against the Lions (and the referee) when they had 2 with their feet up with 10 minutes to go.

Clearly, games of Rugby need only be in 2 halves of 10 minutes each. Each team takes turns starting alternate halves with 13 against 15 and a 7 point deficit.

This format showcases the best of Rugby; flowing backline moves, players running into gaps, desperate defence, lung-busting cover tackles, length of the field stuff.

Scrums of 8 against 7 will fully test the mettle of the 7 and the dedication of the 8. One slip up and humiliation and embarrassment with be their only award. But get it right and push-over tries and rolling mauls will result, beautiful things that only Rugby can produce.

Spectators will be rewarded with pace and precision, power and strength in abundance. Legendary come-from-behind victories will be commonplace, and journalists will go into overdrive lauding the performance of gallant victors and losers, gutsy defensive efforts and spectacular showcases.

It's a dream admittedly, so in the meantime hope for head-high tackles, tackling players in the air, cynical offsides and disrupting the ball carrier, even foul play if it come to it. It's the only way to get rid of the 'excess' players and give us the Rugby we want to watch.

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