Much has been made of the standard of the intl rugby over the Autumn, England have led the way, but are far from alone, with a strategy of not wanting to play with the ball.
The reasons given are that the changes to the referee’s interpretation of the breakdown are making it a ‘ticking time bomb’ when you are in possession. From what we have seen I’d say that is a fair assessment. There have been so many penalties for holding onto the ball it is bordering on ridiculous.
The catch 22 is leniency on attacking team sees defences spread and refuse to compete, cutting down space, the flipside being what we have now.
The issue now stems from the referees leniency of the jackal player being able to support his bodyweight, being on the ball and not placing his hands passed the ruck. This has been compounded by the stricter officiating of the actions of the clearing players staying on their feet.
For me, this is taking it too far, it is no longer a fair contest as it is almost impossible to clear someone, who is not legal, in a legal fashion.
I agree the multi phase, side to side nature of the game with the defences spread could provide some stale matches, but they were far better than we are seeing now. It feels like they’ve used a sledge hammer to bang in a tack!
Rather than tweak the directives back a little so to encourage teams to compete more, they’ve made it almost impossible to play with any phases as the risk of being turned over is so great. Why emphasise both jackal and clearers in favour of the defensive team, one or the other (clearer would be my preference) would be enough.
We have gone full circle back to RWC07. That may seem a long time ago, but those making these decisions were all around then.
England have fallen foul to these interpretations in the past as we have not had players adept over the ball, now we are taking advantage because we do, alternatively side Wales used to take advantage of these interpretations but now are not able to as well. Argentina flourished in RWC07 largely down to this problem and their recent resurgence is no coincidence.
Stephen Jones (spit, turn around and jump) is a moron, science fact and typically has the answer but doesn’t know it. He said all the talk of the referees is nonsense, you’ve only got to look at the GP to see attacking rugby can be played. Correct, but that is because the GP referees are not refereeing the game in the same way. Wayne Barnes and Nigel Owens have been the best referees out there for one simple reason in my opinion, they get the balance between allowing a fair competition but slightly favouring the attacking team. Allowing players to be cleared off the ball, making sure the jackal is legal, but rewarding them when they are and the attacker holds on. Why on earth is Rollande, or whomever is leading these directive changes, not just showing the game tape of these 2 great referees who are leaving the intl arena and saying….do that or go back to domestic to learn how to?