Watching an old recording of London Irish playing Wasps, brought home again the ‘league-like’ nature of modern rugby. One line of men facing another line of men in boring phase play. Nobody getting above a trot. Endless resets with the defensive team’s objective to get a turnover penalty, to kick for the corner and maul for a try.
Maul sanctity, turnover penalties and lack of space with forwards all over the backline are killing the game. Oddly more set pieces would be good because they confine the forwards. Stop calling handling advantage….it just leads to more phase borethons. Set the scrum to create space….but fix the scrums as well….the old scrums without the hit worked much better. We need some deeper innovation here.
In the old days weeks before the game there would be discussion about centre and wing contests…made certain because of set piece defence. Now you are more likely to see a loosie defending a centre than a serious contest in space between centres.
In protecting mauls and the turnover we have driven out the most exciting moments in rugby….eg a wing trying to round his opponent. Today you hardly ever see it….the ball can’t be protected out there or the runner could be pushed into touch. So the wings turn inside looking for support. That means big powerful guys are better options than sprinters.
The gaps are still there for the great centres, wings in full cry can still occasionally be seen. But 95% of the time it’s sterile phase play. Rugby is so much less attractive than in the sixties…somewhere between 7’s and today’s league-like game there has to be a better way.