Sunday, June 03, 2007

Where will it end...

The Stellenbosch trial is designed to speed up the game of rugby. The new rules strip away the complexity and encourage an attacking, open style of play. Many of rugby's pointy-heads agree; too many rules, inconsistent interpretation = confusion and defensiveness. Certainly, I don't like the prospect of a return to penalties as the deciding factor in any test match but neither do would I like to see Test matches become extended 7's tournaments.

Planet-rugby reports the Australian coach, John Connelly, as saying the new rules favour NZ because they encourage non-stop rugby with few set pieces (Connelly isn't quoted saying this however). Again, I hope not as I thoroughly enjoy close matches where scrums and lineouts are attacking opportunities. Besides which, with Carl Hayman in the side, the NZ scrum is as intimidating as Dan Carter with the ball in hand.

Then again, last night's wins by the All Blacks and Wallabies were simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating. Yes there were lots of exciting open play, but neither the Welsh nor the French were competitive. This was, however, primarily a function of the farcical mid-year tours, a point made by Sean Fitzpatrick but I found myself switching to the Swans v Essendon game... which was anything but one-sided. AFL is generally competitive not least of all because of the draft system that means the lowest ranked team has the first pick of the new crop of talent. This ensures no one team dominates over a long period of time.

Would I want this in international rugby, hell no! I don't care if NZ win each and every World Cup game by two penalties to one... so long as we win.

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