Here are some of the main elements of an official International Rugby Board press release which appeared last week:

Writes Stephen Jones as part of his Sunday Times column.

– Rugby World Cup 2007 was the most successful Rugby World Cup tournament in its 20-year history. The tournament smashed all previous attendance, broadcast and economic impact figures.

– The tournament attendance shattered the previous record set in Australia in 2003. Over 2 million attended a Rugby World Cup for the first time with the total attendance reaching 2.25 million. This represents an average match attendance of 47,000 across the 48 tournament matches in France, Scotland and Wales, with a 97% attendance rate across the 42 matches held in France.

– “Rugby World Cup was the biggest sporting event to be staged last year. The rugby was of exceptional standard, generating fascinating matches both in the pool stages and the knock-out rounds. Off the field the tournament captured the hearts and minds of the French public and the wider global rugby community,” said IRB chairman, Bernard Lapasset.

– Mirroring the massive demand for public ticket sales, the tournament’s travel and hospitality programme exceeded 100,000 sales. This is more than the 1999 and 2003 tournaments combined, highlighting the tremendous success of the commercial corporate hospitality and international travel programme.

– Backing up the record attendance figures was massive interest from international broadcasters. In total 119 international broadcasters televised the action across 202 TV territories with a potential cumulative reach of over 4.2 billion (up 800 million on RWC 2003). Live coverage also increased dramatically on 2003 levels from 5,500 hours to over 8,500 broadcast hours.

– Television coverage doubled in Spain, Italy, Portugal and across Asia, while enhanced levels of coverage were also gained in the emerging rugby markets of Russia, India, Canada and the USA.

That’s enough statistics. Here is the big question. Here is the point. Can someone please tell me why we are trailing extensive, controversial, misguided and speculative new laws designed (so they say) to improve the appeal of the game?

 Answers to the IRB.


  1. Comment by JT — March 2, 2008 @ 4:45 pm |Edit This


    It would be dishonest of me to pretend I didn’t think of you when I posted this!

  2. in week 1 I was all for it, week 2 I started to doubt it and now I am already sick of it!
    I am enjoying the Premiership and Magners rugby more at the moment…

  3. It’s what us sceptics have been saying all along.

    Why are we changing the game?

    We don’t need to.

    That’s a rhetorical question.

    I KNOW why we’re changing the game – to suit the Australians, in particular. As Murdoch and News Corp are Aussie they have a little power but on this issue we should just bitch-slap them.

    There are international alternatives, we don’t need News Corp. The Aussies must fight their own internal battles themselves. Countries like SA, NZ, France, England have no serious competition to rugby.

  4. PS: I saw all S14 games plus 2 French Top 14 games and a GP game and a few Magners League games.
    Best games in order of:
    Quins v Gloucester
    Biaritz v Stade
    Cardiff v Munster
    Stormers v Saders

  5. in week 1 I was all for it, week 2 I started to doubt it and now I am already sick of it!
    I am enjoying the Premiership and Magners rugby more at the moment…

    Comment by JT — March 2, 2008 @ 5:06 pm |Edit This

    I agree 100%, JT, it’s just become a glorified kick-fest down south.

    It’s utterly unattractive.

    For some reason Stephen Jones raves about Paddy O’Brien but I’ve always found him to be a narrow minded petty little provincialist policeman/referee.

    And they’ve put this oke in charge of driving change with the laws? It’s all wrong, he’s not bright enough to achieve it successfully.

    Patrick may very well disagree and I must agree, the above sounds incredibly snobbish.

    So be it, O’Brien has never impressed me as an intelligent oke. He wasn’t a sympathetic referee, more the overbearing type but obviously he kissed enough butt during his tenure.

    Andre Watson and Jon Kaplan are both head and shoulders more intelligent, educated, empathetic and better versed in driving inclusive change.

    Thankfully it looks like the NH will laugh off this SH nonsense, in which case, Paddy’s position must look precarious.

  6. Only problem is the shit load of money that has been pumped into this crap.

    WC rugby will always be tight hard fought affairs especially in the later rounds due to the magnitude of the games. GP rugby has this because if you end up bottom of the log you loose a k.k load of money and drop to the 1 div. Here winning is the be all and end all. S14 teams can play like they want and look awesome because their is NO pressure.

  7. The day the S14 starts to become a HC format then the rugby will harden up in the SH.
    IMO you should earn the right to play S14 the top 4 teams in the CC should qualify the top 4 teams from the Aussie championship and the top 5 teams from NZ with the winner of the previous S14 also qualifing. If then at the end of the day we have 6 kiwi side then so be it.

  8. Here winning is the be all and end all. S14 teams can play like they want and look awesome because their is NO pressure.

    Comment by JT — March 2, 2008 @ 5:25 pm |Edit This

    The best change they could make is to SCRAP franchise rugby and make the Super 14 a provincial tournament with STRICT promotion and relegation.

    I.E. A NZ team ends last then the best currently unincluded NPC team takes their place in S14 for next year.

    I’d prefer to support Western Province in VC, CC and S14 – if they get relegated then tough luck! Work harder to get back in next time.

  9. Beg to disagree, I find the rugby played particularly by Blues and Crusaders far more attractive than the kicking non possession default winning bumph we saw at WC 2007, more play time, more passing, more off loading, more acute running lines, more combining, more athleticism, better fitness levels, better rugby per se.

    Just because we cannot keep up with the program, (even though these laws were conceptualized here in our own Stellenbosch back yard) we diss them as rubbish.

    The rugby is played at twice the breakneck speed as before, players will need to become super fit athletes and no shirking of training or fitness levels, it used to be easy to hide behind big brute forwards and long range kicking fly halves when it don’t require skills to compete, now the focus is 100% towards high skill levels and running, protecting possession and good utilization of ball to win, poor tactics and poor handling, bad decision making will be punished by the inevitable correct result, unlikely that the weaker or more defensive playing team will walk away with the spoils from now on.

    Either you come to play ball or you get thumped, isn’t that what the object of the exercise is suppose to be?

  10. it used to be easy to hide behind big brute forwards

    Comment by skopskiet — March 2, 2008 @ 5:50 pm |Edit This

    There, in a nutshell, we have the problem.

    SS, you seem comfortable with the demise of the 126kg prop, the 2.04m lock and the 115kg 8thman.

    It’s an attitude or approach that I will never feel comfortable with.

    From my own rugby playing days I have ALWAYS taken wonder at the different physiques the game commanded.

    I distinctly remember my outside centre for 2 years, a SA karate champion, who eventually gave up the game to preserve his musculature, yet his physique was perfect for 13.

    My best mate to this day played 4 and he’s a massive bugger, my classmate played 3 and he was as wide as a brick sh*thouse, my most admired player came from elsewhere, was as thin as a rake, NEVER missed a tackle and was 15.

    What you are ADVOCATING is the END of all that.

    I’ll NEVER agree.

    I am a life-long fan of rugby – from my earliest memories.

    If they continue down this road, I’ll walk away. I’m old enough not to need it, I have other interests – it’s THEIR choice – lose the traditional rugby fan for some ephemeral ideal of a “new” rugby fan or retain the people that kept them in clover this long.

  11. more play time, more passing, more off loading, more acute running lines, more combining, more athleticism, better fitness levels, better rugby per se.
    Comment by skopskiet — March 2, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

    I did not see this in the Bulls v Sharks game and some other games but saw this in the Bath v Wasps game and Quins v Gloucester games. This IMO is not due to the new laws but the players attitude! Look at the Wales v Fiji game of the WC for example. No new laws there either.

    Attitude of players and coaches and a willingness to entertain makes the difference and not the ELV’s IMO.

  12. Good morning Ras! You having problems falling asleep??

    Comment by JT — March 2, 2008 @ 6:11 pm |Edit This

    Hehehehehe, bastardo!

    Night, JT!

    Night all!

    Out of here!

  13. Did you see the Blues Cheetahs game, big 8’s, big locks, hefty front rows, nothings changed there, only much more commitment to moving the ball and advancing through advantage lines, some poetic moments of well constructed tries, by both Blues and cheetahs, and not a moment to rest between maneuvers, its play the ball or get eaten alive, NH HC sides will get horsewhipped by the top proponents here of this system, there is no place and no time to hide any deficiencies no more and that is precisely why our direction less game is being exposed wholesale for what it is.

    Our boys are being forced to learn long lost skills at breakneck pace by a baptism of fire, and its well past due too. thank goodness, the old game was going into defensive patterns and nothing was done to promote or encourage courageous ball utilizing ambitions, just kick the goddam thing away and hope for the best or set up another gimme line out in order to pummel your bully most way towards the try line, that thank goodness is now history.

    Long live the ELV’s and lets hope we all get better at applying them, for the good of the game forthwith.

  14. Comment by skopskiet — March 2, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

    I would not get ahead of yourself… No garantee these ELVs will be implemented by the IRB come 2009.

  15. JT 5:29

    You know SA rugby is one
    big comfort zone, entrencing
    the rights of certain unions
    whether they perform or not.

  16. I find the rugby played particularly by Blues and Crusaders far more attractive than the kicking non possession default winning bumph we saw at WC 2007, more play time, more passing, more off loading, more acute running lines, more combining, more athleticism, better fitness levels, better rugby per se.

    Then go support rugby league – seems right up your alley – and leave the brute violence to the men that can handle it.

  17. Our boys are being forced to learn long lost skills

    We have been playing this game for over 100 years, just exactly when and where did we lose those skills?

    Oh wait, under White I presume…

    Pull the other one.

    Answer me this simple question…

    Why change something that has worked for over 100 years and over 50 years (since last major law changes)?

    In that time, NZ, SA, Aus, Eng, Sco, Fra, Ire, … ag hell just about everyone has been successful…

    So why?

    Simple question – requires only a simple answer, doubt I will ever get it though.

  18. You just like the dinosaurs PA don’t want to adapt, you’d rather whimper and die, and tell me honestly you reckon we been blessed with such gloriously skilled players under White, the same lot that coughed up a 49-0 hiding, seems you like the rest prefer to hang onto traditional weaknesses, yes not strengths, weaknesses, you saying these faster more athletic better conditioned players you seeing run rings around our lead footed dinosaur warriors are weaklings too?

  19. We used to play with skill, plenty of it, till the likes of Streauli and White coached all of it right out of their hands, feet and minds, till all they now know what to do is kick and run headlong head first into a one dimensional battering ram crunch, usually coughing up possession in the process, that is exactly why we are being shown, who are the men and who are the boys left on the park.

  20. Expected.

    A simple answer was probably too much to ask.

    Instead I got the usual bullshit I usually associate with you and your post.

    Our ‘dinasours’ not only won the 3N, got voted team of the year twice in 4 years, and won the World Cup, we also got voted the best team in the world by 45 sporting legends (legends = the likes or term you wont obviously understand).

    As SA lost with a margin of 49 points, England has also lost with similar margins, France with 40+ margins, Ireland, Wales, Australia and even NZ losing with a clear 23+ margin – and all this in the last decade under which laws? You guessed it…

    No team has ever gone unbeaten, no team has ever not received a massive hiding. We hold and share most records in rugby in the world – and you seem to justify your stance through what? A perception that we are inferior? A perception that we are wrong?

    I say perceptions because the last thing you ever bring up are any facts whatsoever.

    Under Markgraaff, Carel, Viljoen, hell just about all coaches in the professional era, we suffered humiliating defeats, like other teams…

    The difference now is, we are number one in the world, we are world champions, we are the best sporting team in the world across all codes – yet you seem to agree to want to change the playing field.

    My original question was simple – yet you spewed your expected bullshit bringing up the only thing you seem to be able to hang onto when you are made to look like a fool (which is often) and that is to bring up 49-0 (which is also often – surprising – no…).

    So I have to reply complimenting your post.

    Hope you enjoyed it.

  21. :em24:

    But the fact remains, Morneno:

    We have very seldom been competitive
    in Super rugby and the Tri-Nations, and
    this year looks even worse.

    Nobody beats the Boks for sheer passion,
    but our skills are very behind. Shit,
    apart from Habana we don’t have ONE
    wing worthy of even playing for a S14
    side – never mind a #10.

  22. Morneno,
    that was well put.
    The simple,surgical,brutal,
    brilliance of it.

    However to even contemplate
    to share it amiabily with SS
    is about as naive as John
    Smit not wondering what he and
    his teammates would’ve done against
    the AB or the frogs,
    when tonga and fidji looked hard,
    then again
    last team standing
    Deserves the Cup,
    nevermind the AB players about
    resting through the S14,
    that we won,
    for all the good it done them.

    But all credit for a worthy effort
    on nog n vrystaat duwelltjie.

  23. Naand Toppie,

    Ek wonder waneer Stan gaan terugkom
    met werfetters soos SS,
    at the least Stan is funny,

  24. Duiwel

    Naand, hoe gaan dit?

    Ek besoek die haaiwaters nie eers
    teen betaling nie – ek het genoeg
    van ‘n paar van hulle se kak hier

  25. Boertjie,

    Point taken, but in all our history we have always been able to beat the AB’s at their own game, if we have the right ingredients without any outside influences like government.

    I just reckon that because we have not been able to beat them regularly in a 3N or S14 tournament saying it is because of lack of skill is a bit naive.

    The AB’s have their style of playing, and we have proven beyond doubt that we are probably the only team in the world to take them on, and beat them at their own game, but even with our own.

    A quick look at rugby in SA in the past 4 years and I see:

    2004 – Jake White was the great ‘white’ hope – after 2003 SA was so desperate to forget Staaldraad that we had a coach who was not put under any pressure politically or from rugby administrators at all.

    What did he do – won the 3N – and from me, Jake is not close to the best coach we have or had in SA rugby or Bok rugby.

    In 2007 – we had a WC squad selected which just about every ‘rugby’ supporter was happy with and government and administrators decided to back off the coach and selectors and what did we achieve?

    We won the World Cup.

    I between, politicians and administrators occupy 90% of the back-pages in newspapers rather than rugby people and coaches – which is why we are kak – not because of skill.

    We have the skill, but like I said in another thread, we are getting the basics wrong – and that does not always include rugby basics.

  26. Morneno/PA

    In agreement on the game and the new laws.It is the only game where different body builts can excell. Keep it like this. I hate Ausie rules and the rest of the athletic games.

    I am back here as well.

    Heard about the (internal)issues of yesteryear LOONG after it happens. Thought in November that Keo was actually better. I really don’t like them.

    Possible to ban certain IDIOTS?

  27. Hey Sors – good to have you back man.

    And from me again – issues always have a way of sorting themselves out – so no worries.

    Did a move (from country to country) myself so been offline for a while.

    Still getting back into the swing of things.

  28. Morneno

    I’m afraid we have to scrape the
    barrell to find a competent 22 –
    and then rely on passion and power
    and the boot.

    Our S14 teams are left way behind.

    We could not even string together a
    decent B-team for the World Cup.

    I hate to disagree with you, but how
    often do we beat the Frogs, never mind
    the OzMob and NZL?

    And let’s be very honest: We had a very
    easy passage in the WC. We lost to both
    NZL (twice) and Oz in the build-up.

  29. :oops:
    Even worse: Kiwis x3, Oz x2 after
    scraping home at Newlands.
    The first loss vs Kiwis was at home
    with a full team minus John Smit.
    We haven’t won in NZL since – was it
    That is a long time . . .

  30. Boertjie we came very close on two occasions in NZ… but we were playing 15man 70min rugby when it should have been 22man 80min rugby… bench was not trusted… and in some cases justified…

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