Thursday, 24 April 2008

Three cheers for the RFU! (seriously)

Say what you like about the RFU - incompetent duffers who couldn't organise a gang bang in a brothel, or dastardly conspirators determined to undermine the growth of rugby worldwide - but, whatever they are, they've certainly managed to get one thing right with the news yesterday that the RFU is to canvass grassroots opinion on the ELVs.

What's triggered this move is that the IRB are set hold a media briefing in London on Saturday ahead of a key meeting on 1st May at which the IRB plan to push through plans to introduce the ELVs into northern hemisphere rugby next season.

Fortunately, opposition from English rugby appears to be more or less unanimous, with the RFU expressing reservations and the Premiership clubs in particular being vocal in their disdain. Encouragingly, both the Welsh Rugby Union and the Irish Rugby Union have also voiced grave concerns and Serge Blanco, chief of the professional French clubs, is up in arms over claims that the French game is in favour of the proposed changes.

I've made my own views on the vast majority of the ELVs pretty clear. But the problem isn't that the ELVs are part of some Australian-led conspiracy to turn proper rugby into rugby league - they're not, although watching the Aussies react to that allegation never ceases to amuse. No, the real problem is that the ELVs were dreamt up by a totally unrepresentative bunch of blokes appointed by the IRB who think they've discovered a bunch of problems with the game and have come up with a bunch of ideas to solve them and now appear determined to drive through these solutions despite there being no evidence that they identified the correct problems in the first place or came up with the correct solutions. I'm sure that I could sit down with the guys at my rugby club and produce a list of different problems and different solutions which would be equally as valid.

Of course, when faced with opposition to the ELVs, the IRB's answer is to bombard us with a whole host of stats which "prove" that the game is better off under the ELVs because the ball's in play a bit longer. The stats which show that there are more stoppages in play due to the plethora of free kicks being awarded, meanwhile, are conveniently ignored. It's as if they feel that, because they've invested so much time and effort in coming up with and then trialling these new ideas, they simply have to make sure they become law whatever the consequences.

What no one has done, until now, is ask us - the great unwashed, the players, coaches, referees, administrators, volunteers, supporters and alickadoos at grassroots level - what we think of it all. Until now, that is. I have wondered previously whether anyone had given any thought to the effect of the ELVs on grassroots rugby and now, unbelievably, someone has done just that. The fact that it is the RFU that has come up with this radical idea just goes to show that life can still be full of surprises.

The RFU Survey


Matt @ Green and Gold Rugby said...

Asking a bunch of people what they think about changes they haven't tried or seen will get one answer only.

But that's the goal isn't it?

I'll wager that otherwise the old farts don't actually give a fuck what you (the supporters) think.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how many of the NEW ELVs are in fact existing laws!

While I'm a supporter of the ELVs there scale of change associated with each. Some have no impact (they are already laws) while others are material changes to the game.

To me the best law is the one that reduces the number of penalties to only three (not including dangerous play) at the breakdown.

1. Offside for not coming through the gate.
2. Offside where defenders are in front of the last man on their side of the
breakdown. i.e. the offside line
3. Deliberate and repeated infringements.

The three rule changes that I think are the most contentious are

1. If the ball is unplayable at the breakdown, the side that did not take the ball into contact will receive a Free Kick

2. Immediately the tackle occurs there are offside lines.

3. Players on their feet may handle the ball in the ruck.

Each of these make a fundamental change to the game and the way it is played.

The rest of the laws are not as contentious and to me make sense - such as the corner flag rule change.

I'd be interested in your specific objections.

Karl aka Stomper

Total Flanker said...

So what's the alternative Matt?

Introduce the changes anyway on a "trial" basis as a fait accompli (which is basically what the IRB are trying to do)?

Take a look at the survey - it's pretty even handed in my view, explians the proposed changes without bias and gives participants plenty of opportunity to support the changes one by one.

Total Flanker said...


If I had to choose 3 ELVs that I really object to they'd be:

- allowing hands in the ruck (not being trialled at S14);

- allowing mauls to be collapsed (ditto); and

- changing penalties to free kicks, particularly at the breakdown where the vast majority of offences are deliberate and not merely technical (free kicks for techinal offences e.g. at the scrum might be acceptable unless the offences are repeated).

However, although I'm sure that one could probably make a case for each of the proposed ELVs individually, what I really object to is the idea that wholesale changes to the game should be introduced at once. Rather than any one change it's the whole package of ELVs that will fundamentally alter the nature of the game - and in my humble opinion that is neither necessary nor desirable.