Sunday, 5 October 2008

Reflections on a new era...

Further thoughts on my first game under the ELVs last week...

As previously mentioned, the ref handed out an A4 sheet of paper before the game containing a summary of the new laws which almost no one read. From a personal perspective I took the view that there was little point working out what the new laws were seeing as the laws I played by last season were those last in force in 1994.

As to the game itself, as far as I could make out the new laws had no major impact. The facts show that we lost by 2 tries to 1 (although we won't get into why we didn't score 2), compared with 4 tries to 2 in the corresponding fixture last season - but, as ever, bare statistics don't tell the whole story.

The extra five metres at the scrum proved useless to us as inevitably we were in reverse gear at this phase and, despite their control at the scrum, the opposition didn't really ever get to exploit the apparent extra space - so the jury's still out on that one. And, although we did benefit from one kick straight into touch from the oppo's 22, the new law preventing the pass back into the 22 didn't seem to have much of an impact either - although it's impossible to say whether a punt straight down the middle was part of a tactical masterplan or just the usual case of a hopelessly inept and wayward attempt to kick for touch.

So, no major impact but - and I can't quite put my finger on why - the game did feel different somehow...there was just something just not quite right.

There was only one lineout drive for instance (immediately collapsed) which meant that the neither side established any control from this phase and that possession was flung out all too readily. That suited us - our lineout usually being a shambles - and defence from the lineout was therefore easy as we knew that the catch and drive wasn't an option for the opposition.

There was also total confusion at the breakdown where the referee found something different to penalise on almost every occasion. I know they've been told to clamp down but as a result the game rarely had any continuity (although given my state of exhaustion this might have been a good thing). I'd hate to think, however, what might have happened had he had the cop-out option of a free kick to award - the game would almost certainly have descended into an orgy of tap-and-go after each and every breakdown.

At the elite level it's widely reported that the quality of games in the English Premiership has fallen from the highs of last season with fewer try-scoring opportunities being created and more tactical kicking resulting in lower scoring games and less excitement which, some say, is reflected in lower attendances across the board.

It's too early to make such sweeping judgements in my view and I can't really comment having not seen a Premiership game live but, from a grassroots level, I'd say the signs aren't good - the game is looser and has a more hectic and chaotic feel to it, no doubt, but as to any improvement in standards or simplicity of understanding, I'd say the ELVs were a long way off achieving what they set out to.


Nursedude said...

Flanker, from the game I played in yesterday, I would agree about the amount of whistles at the breakdown. My scary moment was being in the middle of a maul that was ripped down, luckily, I was so wedged in the mass of bodies, me and long suffering right knee did not get torqued-a massive sigh of relief. I wonder if after a couple of years, people in the rugby community will like back upon the ELV's as the dreadful experiment with "New Coke" in the US back in the 80's-as a well-meaning experiment that went horribly astray.Maybe we will end up with "ELV-light", just the couple of good things out of the ELV's.

Stomper said...

I don't agree with the collaping the maul ELV. Interestingly while it was trialed in the APC competition in Austalia it was abandoned for the S14.

I think you are confusing loseness in your games and interpretation at the breakdown on the ELVs - none of the ELVs being trialled in the NH would have an effect. Perhpas it's crap refereeing at your level or instructions given to your referees that is causing confusion?

choirboy said...


During our game on Saturday (at a similar level to yours and not a million miles away) we had a nice maul set up and chugging towards the line from about 10 m out when a fat bloke in a green and white said something along the lines of 'Oi lads, we can collapse this!'. So they duly did, the ball squirted into the hands of our blindside winger as the collapsing bodies wiped out their scrummy and winger. Our lad strolled over for our only try of the game. ELV's: gotta love 'em!

Your Scrumhalf Connection said...

In our last two League Matches we also have had some problems with reffing at the breakdowns. One referee was OBSESSED with the offsides line and if you were even close to the back foot you were immediately penalized.

The other was that he would not allow proper squeeze or long ball to happen at ALL. There was clean ball at the back of the ruck and I was moving it to my flyhalf but we were immediately penalized as killing the ball...

I agree that there needs to be more attention paid to the breakdown...but the interpretation is across the board and varies with each ref!