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Spectators are loving the ELVs


The jury is still out on the ELVs, but the spectators are loving a game that have fewer pile-ups and scrums and asks for a higher level of skills, writes JOHN CONNOLY on Rugby Heaven. While rugby league is celebrating its centenary, rugby is fast approaching its 200th year. When William Webb Ellis picked up that ball in 1823, little did he know what he’d unleashed.

Most of the changes in the game have occurred over the past 15 years, including the move to professionalism. But the adoption of the ELVs in this year’s Super 14 has brought the greatest changes.

Happier spectators are seeing more flowing games and there are fewer pile-ups as teams realise they have to “use it or lose it”. They’re also not forced to watch so many scrums, and the referees are far more liberal in their interpretations and often allow play to continue after scrums collapse.

The ball is simply in play for longer, which is exactly what the new rules were designed to do. There’s less structure in the game than there was before and just as much kicking. The rugby is more off the cuff, which will challenge a lot of countries if the rules are adopted worldwide.

Players have found they have to be much fitter than before. Rugby league traditionally produced fitter players, with the up-and-back 10 metres, and there was more rest time in rugby. No more. The pace of the game during the Super 14 has been massive.

At the breakdown, there are just as many ruck and mauls under the new laws but they are far looser. Players have to be far more precise with how they go in the ruck.

Because it’s a much looser game, players’ skill levels have to be higher. A good kicking game has become even more crucial. Look at the two best kicking five-eighths at the moment – Auckland’s Nick Evans and the Crusaders’ Dan Carter. As well as being skilful players they are getting full value and distance from their kicks. In this respect, the Australian teams have been suffering badly.

Changed roles for #9 and #10

I think rugby league has always acknowledged the importance of the role of the halfback and five-eighth. The role of the No.9 and No.10 in rugby has always been important but never more than now under the new rules. They have their hands on the ball three times more than any other player, so they have to be creative.

There has been some criticism of the new rules. South African winger Bryan Habana reckons the game is more like rugby league. Others have suggested the rules don’t allow countries to develop their own style, forcing them to all play the same way. That may be the case.

We’ve certainly seen Australian and Kiwi teams adapt to the new rules reasonably quickly but South Africa have been a bit slow on the uptake. But I think we’ll see that when the South African teams adapt they will have the power in the forwards and pace in the backs to be a big threat.

More initiatives to revitalise

The new Super 14 laws are not the only recent initiatives to revitalise the game. The World Cup has taken over rugby, and Test nations are getting tired of it. The four-year gap between tournaments means many meaningless Tests are being played and the best players aren’t being picked.

IRB vice-chairman Bill Beaumont has suggested there should be an international tournament in the Test “windows” of June and November that would include teams from the Six Nations and the Tri Nations countries, plus Argentina. They would play in two pools, with the final played at Twickenham at the end of November. This would be a great idea every two years.

There is also the Asian Five Nations series, including Japan, South Korea and Kazakhstan, due to start next month. It’s another way to spread the game, and the financial rewards would be huge if it works.

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  1. :em05:

    Although the majority of SA supporters hate these ELV’s, I think this might be a blessing in disguise for our players’ skill levels.

    Our 9’s and 10’s will again have to start thinking creatively as the writer says, and that can only be a good thing. Crash ball rugby has brought us to here, but we will need to get some of the basics back if we want to catch up and be the pioneers duing the reign as World Cahmpions.

  2. I can only imagine all the different plays and ploys JW would be dreaming up using the ELV’s en-route to another marketing meet…

  3. I want real hookers back, you know thse that could sometimes win the ball on the opponents straight put in with his lightening fast reactions.

  4. Comment by BobZZZ — March 11, 2008 @ 2:21 pm
    Not the hookers fault if the 9 is allowed to feed the ball straight to his locks! Not an ELV problem either but more a professional era problem! Heaven forbid the TV spectators get to see another scrum!!! That is why a lot of referees play on even after a colapsed scrum
    I love my amateur rugby here in Austria!

  5. The full ELVs want to take mauling out of the game which I am against as well! Mauling is a technique that teams perfect and IMO as good (if not better) to watch as a Habana catching the ball from the KO and running down the line to score!

  6. The four-year gap between tournaments means many meaningless Tests … the best players aren’t being picked.
    Negative off-spin from the Web Ellis.
    But I think clubs are also guilty, not
    wanting to release players.

  7. JT
    Why not call mauling by it’s
    real name:
    Legalised obstruction.

    Defender can’t get to ball carrier.
    Not that much different from cross-
    running, is there?

  8. Mauling is as old as rugby! MAULING is as part of rugby as the scrum! It draws in the fatties and opens up the field for the backs! Perfect for running rugby, why take it away!?

  9. PS: See the cheetahs line-up??
    Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Hendrik Meyer, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Conrad Barnard, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Darron Nel, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Ronnie Uys.
    Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Barend Pieterse, 19 Duanne Vermeulen, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Falie Oelschig, 22 Meyer Bosman.

    Good to see Hendro back?! Floors at 8? This could be an interesting move! Cheetahs want to move it against the Saders, going to be awesome to watch

  10. Either that or they are
    preparing to throw the
    game. Not their best
    starting XV for sure.

  11. Naka is resting most of his frontline players, but this is no pushover team. Also glad to see Hendro back, and Floors and hope Hendrik Meyer grabs at the chance he’s getting. He better the ‘astard, I still need sufficient excuse for him turning down Nam WC

  12. And not all blerrie spectators love the ELVes dammit, sometimes they really such. But nothing more so than every ref having his very own interpretation and these utterly usesless ARs(es).

  13. :oops: ‘really such’ Eish, that’s bad even for me!

    ‘really suck’ actually, pls excuse the typo…

  14. Ran across this on 24.com, put it under the Ruggaworld Recipes if you like…

    “Screw the food…
    Have you ever watched Gordon Ramsay on BBC Food cook a signature dish from one of his Michelin star restaurants while you sat there on your couch, eating cold baked beans straight out of the can? It’s a truly humbling experience.

    Cantankerous as he is, Ramsay is a culinary genius, but like the perennially pissed Keith Floyd, he comes from the old school of TV chefs, in that his shows are all about food and cooking.

    Things have changed. There was a time when chefs would dazzle us with dishes that required three days to prepare, the budget of a sultan’s wedding and ingredients you can only acquire if you’re willing to risk being attacked by bears. Then, of course, they’d finish with a flourish and say, “It’s so easy!?

    No, it’s not, you bastards. Stop lying to us.

    But now, the focus has shifted away from the food and onto the chefs themselves, as they try to sell themselves as personalities we’re supposed to actually like – or perhaps more disturbingly, as sex symbols.

    Jamie Oliver, for example, has been widely described as “an unlikely sex symbol? – “unlikely? I assume, because he’s ugly and annoying and nobody in their right mind would want to touch him with a stolen hand. Have you noticed his tongue is just a bit too big for his head, causing him to lisp and spit over whatever he’s cooking? Shagging him must be like doing it with a sloppy drunk who won’t shut up and keeps trying to show you things, like the lamp, or the toaster. But whether he should be legally allowed to consent to sex is probably debatable.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Nigella Feasts. Now the show may be presented by Nigella Lawson, but the real stars are undoubtedly her bouncing milk puppies. Frankly, I think they need their own show. Both of them. It could be called Nigella’s Bodacious Boobage. There’s no cooking involved. Just one close up shot for 30 minutes of her gigantic rack should be enough to keep viewers entertained.
    It’s hard to tear your eyes away from those humungous funbags, let alone concentrate on what she’s actually saying. In fact, I’d watched half a season of Nigella Feasts before I even realized it was a cooking show. I was like, “What, she’s cooking food? OK, sure, fine by me – whatever keeps her jiggling.? Seriously, when she gets to the part where she whips the egg whites to soft peaks, any man who doesn’t immediately want to warm up the bubble machine and cue the Barry White for some sweet loving doesn’t have a penis. There. Now don’t say I never write anything positive.

    But the hottest, most shagtastic chef on the channel is Anthony Bourdain. He’s in his fifties, he smokes like my ex girlfriend’s cooking and drinks like a sailor trying to imitate me; he’s been on heroin, cocaine and a whole bunch more; he’s got tattoos, piercings, and doesn’t really give a shit what anyone thinks of him. But despite all this, women cream themselves over this dude. It’s the bad boy image, you see. He’s catering gone rock ‘n roll. And most of all, he’s not even trying. Now how hot is that? Hell, I’d do him – especially if he got himself some Nigella-sized implants. The man’s obviously not averse to body modification, so who knows. I might get lucky.

    – Chris McEvoy”

  15. K.k funny, and a little reckless maybe but honest at least!

    The last part is daft, but I couldn’t agree more about said lady!

  16. JT @2.25
    Yes, the skew feeding of the scrum has nothing to do with the ELV’s and has been ignored for years already, Whenever the ref blows for a skew put in then I tend to think that the ref favours the one team over the other because absolutely no scrunny feeds the ball right down the middle and if he was being fair he would have blown each and every scrum in the game.

  17. JT….You already have your lineouts back, they disappeared for a couple of weeks whilst the silly-buggers went mad, but they’re back now, and even more important than ever in the attacking 22.

    Bobz…..you can’t have competitive scrums until the ball is AGAIN placed in the middle of the tunnel. This breakdown is entirely the result of BAD reffing.

    JT… you’re talking a load of garbage, the ELV’s have NOT taken mauling out of the game. What you need to look at is whether the time spend on a maul is as effective as getting the ball loose and tearing for the try-line. Currently mauling is just an excuse to make a cup of coffee, and not miss any of the actaul rugby,


  18. Patrick – go read JT again:

    The full ELVs want to take mauling out of the game

    Emphasis on “full”.

    We are only playing to a selection of
    the proposed ELVs.

    Apology will be in order

  19. Boertjie,

    No apology required……we’re talking the “current” ELV’s not some mystic jobs that may or may not come in.

    Maybe time for you to have a cup of coffee.



  20. JT… you’re talking a load of garbage, the ELV’s have NOT taken mauling out of the game. What you need to look at is whether the time spend on a maul is as effective as getting the ball loose and tearing for the try-line. Currently mauling is just an excuse to make a cup of coffee, and not miss any of the actaul rugby,


    Comment by Patrick — March 11, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

    Read my post again Patrick, I said that the complete ELVS will be the end of mauling. Not the current ELVS.
    BTW; Line-outs are down by 22%! 22% less than the same time last season! :???:

  21. Ah Deary,

    I had to go right back to Entry 5 to see that word “Full”.

    Well, I’ve just eaten my slice of humble pie and have to say SORRY !

    BUT BUT BUT ……we are realing only talking about the here and NOW !


  22. I really never thought I would say this…but I actually like watching the S14 ELV show. The key word there is “watch” playing by those rules would be torture due to the pace.

    My main concern was that it would dislodge the larger types of players and would lead to scoring based solely upon dead legs in the last 20 or 40 minutes-not like with the current Test laws of a strategy to do so-keeping the ball many phases etc. but by the limits of the human body being run ragged by quick taps for 80 minutes-especially on the big guys.

    But it has been fun to watch. I don’t know how it will all play out-but I would be for continuing to use the laws in the S14 and keep the Test/NH laws the same. It could only help the SH teams when they play tests.

    If that would’nt work to keep big guys in the game-adopt Eddie Jones idea-or something like it to allow more sub coverage.

    It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

  23. I am so SORRY for confusing Patrick… Was not my intention and I will try and be clearer in future with my posts for our kiwi cousins to follow what we are on about.

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