Monday, 3 March 2008

Common sense breaks out

The world turned on its axis this weekend when Clive Woodward's former sparring partner, ex-Wallaby coach Eddie Jones, finally came out and said something sensible.

Eddie, good on him, has warned that the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) are turning our game into a Rugby League hybrid, making rugby "too generic."

By simplifying the laws of Rugby, he writes, we run the risk of making the game predictable.

"Take the World Cup," says Eddie. "England beat Australia by taking the game at the scrum and breakdown. Argentina beat France through kick-chase expertise. France upset New Zealand by dominating the ruck and the 'Boks beat England in the Final by controlling the line-outs.

"At first view, the ELVs have elevated the importance of unstructured attack and some games seem an endless stream of free kicks. This favours sides with powerful, instinctive athletes which is why the Blues and Crusaders are looking unbeatable in Super 14 right now.

"Furthermore, the ELVs encourage sides to cheat. The Waratahs look happy to give away a free kick on engagement on the opposition's scrum ball to negate the potential gains for the attacking team exploiting a defence standing five metres back from the scrum."

Couldn't have put it better myself Eddie.

Furthermore, in another triumph for common sense, it looks as if the ELVs might not, after all, be implemented as planned in the Tri-Nations. Australian Rugby Union chief executive John "We all hate England" O'Neill has said he was "taken aback" at some responses yesterday after the IRB presentation on the ELV's in Hong Kong.

"A couple of the northern hemisphere unions indicated very strong reservations and a very strong level of scepticism about the new laws," said O'Neill, whose plans to invent an entirely new sport are now under threat.

Quite right too. Although the unions involved were not named I'd hazard a guess at the RFU and IRFU being the favourites, in which case a hearty slap on the back to those involved. Apparently the Six Nations unions are due to hold a meeting on the ELVs on 28th March when I'd hope that this outbreak of common sense might well start to reach epidemic proportions.

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