The more they change the laws, the bigger the mess – with referees and TMO’s making their own contributions.
Dan Retief, City Press
Recently, in the plethora of tests played in the UK and Europe, there have just been too many “pilot errors” and instances in which it was abundantly clear that the players were perplexed and not sure how to stay on the right side of the law.
It’s simply not good enough at matches in which millions of fans have a vested interest, huge finances are involved, and the careers of coaches and players are on the line.
The new scrum engagement sequence – in which “crouch, touch, pause, engage” gave way to “crouch, bind, set” – initially seemed satisfactory because it seemed to bring back the art of scrummaging.
But different interpretations by different officials have caused the set piece to degenerate into as much of a mess as it ever was.
There seems to be a lack of understanding of the immense forces involved when 16 heavy and powerful athletes clash head-on, and of the fact that the formation is actually meant to be a contest.
Props will always try to outdo each other and tactics often require twists and turns that manoeuvre one team into a dominant position – hence the fact that teams may be “binding”, but so loosely that they have again introduced a destabilising “hit”.
This is down to the leeway allowed by some referees, and the onus is on the IRB to require consistency. Another area of unpredictability is the breakdown – part of the game that has become a yellow card printing works.
One clear way to solve the problem is to eliminate the ridiculous situation in which the tackler is allowed to play the ball from an offside position. How can this be, when playing onside is a basic tenet of the game?
One thing’s for sure, the old refrain shouted from the terraces, “hey Mr Ref, open your eyes, you’re missing a great game!” has never been more true.