Referee interpretation and 2 open sides in the team.

Stuart Barnes wrote a good article in The Times this week.

As is the way these days there was a click bait element in that he said the All Blacks are the most cynical cheats in the game.

He actually describes them as the most positive attacking side and the most cynical defensive side.
He cites their skullduggery at the breakdown, staying on the wrong side, coming in at the side and illegal hands on the ball – all just long enough to slow oppo ball down to ruin their attack, but not egregious enough for the referees to police it properly.

He seems to blame the recent trend for referees to allow a ‘fair contest’, suggesting much of what is considered fair really isn’t.

I think he is absolutely right and it really annoys me seeing referees award defensive penalties to the jackaller, who looks up at him with glee with his head and elbows on the floor!
Or in the case of the French refs, all 4 of them going to the RWC, they seem to have an anything goes attitude, until they randomly decide to give the odd penalty to either side.

I really hope we see more of the Owens/Barnes interpretation, it just seems fairer and certainly provides better rugby on the eye.

Barnes goes on to cite this being the reason for Pocock/Hooper, Savea/Cane, Navidi/Tipuric and UnderCurry.
I would also go one further for England and say it is also why Kvesic is clearly lined up as cover over the likes of Robshaw and Hughes.

These selections are there to make sure the opposition doesn’t get good ball. In a scrappy game England have always suffered as they haven’t been able to fight fire with fire and over the course of 80 mins they haven’t been able to level out the penalty count.
Hopefully UnderCurry, Wilson and Kvesic, if called upon, can help with that.

It is difficult to combat it but it was encouraging to see on the latest episode of Rising Sons Eddie talking about how they’re working hard to address it. Making some of their strength work more breakdown focused.
I hope it works.