Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The story so far...

Nearly 3 months into the so-called brave new world of the ELVs but are we any the wiser?

The RFU, bless 'em, continue to listen (check out the RFU Survey) but what happens after they've gathered, sorted and lost our opinions is anyone's guess.

So far this season the ELVs haven't exactly covered themselves in glory at the elite level and various high profile coaches in this neck of the woods have expressed their severe misgivings. But what of us, the mere mortals of the grassroots game, what do we think of the story so far?

Over on Confessions of a Rugby Referee, Big Dai gives a very eloquent verdict on the ELVs from the point of view of a grassroots rugby referee. One of the stated aims of the ELVs was to make the game easier to referee but, from reading Dai's analysis, the new laws appear to have, for the most part, achieved the precise opposite.

Anyway, for those of you have never listened to what a referee has to say and aren't about to start now, here's my entirely objective take on the ELVs from the point of view of an old and lardy grassroots forward...

ELV 1 - Assistant Referee - Assistant Referees to provide additional information to the referee to assist in decision making. What assistant referee? Great idea but totally irrelevant to the vast majority of matches played up and down the land every weekend.

ELV 2 – Maul -Remove reference in Law to head and shoulders not to be lower than hips. Sounds like a bad idea but, to be honest, I don't think I've ever seen someone penalised in a maul for his body position.

ELV 3 – Maul - A defending team may pull the Maul to the ground. The world and his wife agrees that this is a crap idea and potentially very dangerous. That said, although in my first game the driving maul appeared to have become extinct as a result of this law, in subsequent games it has been resurrected and, given that it really isn't so easy to drag down, the driving maul can, if used judiciously, still be a weapon.

ELV 4 - Lineout and Throw When a defending player receives the ball outside the 22 metre line and passes, puts or takes the ball back inside the 22 by any means, there no gain in ground. In my three games this season this has been picked up a grand total of once. No noticeable increase in attacking from the 22 either.

ELV 5 - Lineout and Throw- A quick throw may be thrown in straight or towards the throwing team’s own goal line. Great in theory but totally impractical in Vets rugby where no one has the energy to counter-attack and we're all glad of the breather.

ELV6 - Lineout and Throw There is no restriction in the number of players who can participate in the lineout from either side (minimum of 2). Harmless - no impact whatsoever.

ELV 7 - Lineout and Throw The receiver in a lineout must stand 2 metres back from the lineout. Why? Does anyone pay attention to this law, let alone the scrum half or, indeed, the referee?

ELV 8 - Lineout and Throw The team not throwing into the lineout MUST have a player in the 5 metre channel who must be 2 metres away from the front of the lineout. This player cannot join the lineout until the ball has left the hands of the player throwing in. Yawn, although apparently Dai has picked this one up once (obviously in a moment of sheer pedantry).

ELV 9 - Lineout and Throw Lineout players may pre-grip a jumper before the ball is thrown in. Has been happening for years and is irrelevant in a Vets lineout where no one really leaves the ground.

ELV 10 - Lineout and Throw- The lifting of lineout players is permitted. And has been since 1995 if I'm not mistaken.

ELV 11 – Scrum - The offside line for a player who is not in the scrum and is not one of the scrum halves is 5 metres behind the hindmost foot of the scrum. I had great hopes for this one but it's virtually impossible for refs to pick up encroachment without help and any space gained seems to be used as extra time to get a kick away more often than not.

ELV 12 – Scrum - The defending scrum half must stand next to his opponent when the ball is put into the scrum. Once the ball is in the scrum the scrum halves may then either (1) follow the ball ensuring that they remain behind the ball (2) retreat behind the hindmost foot of their players in the scrum or (3) retreat behind their side's 5 metre offside line, but if they do so they may not come forward again until the scrum is over. But has anyone actually noticed?

ELV 13 - Posts and Flags around the Field - The corner posts, and posts at corner of touch , in goal and dead ball line, are no longer considered to be in touch in goal except when a ball is grounded against the post. Great news as I was always hitting those damned posts when diving over for tries in the corner...not!

All in all then I'd venture that the ELVs' impact on the game I play has been negligible (although to be fair the game I play tends to be under the laws that were last in operation in 1994). Of bigger impact has been the directive to referees to police the breakdown with zero tolerance which, as I've alluded to before, has turned most rucks into a lottery.

So, the ELVs aren't as bad as I feared but I guess the question is that, if the ELVs are making such little impact, why bother?


BigDai said...

Thanks for the mention. In relation to ELV 8, there was no penalty (that would be pedantry), just an instruction to put someone there.
To generalise, players are generally reassured that refs know Laws they don't!

Stomper said...

if you want to see some difference try the sanctions change...

Total Flanker said...

No thanks Stomper - I really wouldn't want to encourage any more infringments at the breakdown and, being a knackered old Vet, certainly don't want rugby turning into the tap and go nonsense you lot serve up down south (although I wouldn't mind seeing the England forwards get a bit fitter!)

Stomper said...

TF - I can understand what you were saying. I mean if England can concede 4 yellow cards under only a few ELVs, imagine how many if they introduced sanctions!