Sunday, 4 October 2009

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

Amongst the news recently has been:
  1. the suspended sentence handed down by the FFR to Mathieu Bastareaud for telling porky pies about his "assault" in Wellington in June. An eminently sensible decision by the FFR. Yes, Bastareaud was stupid, but there was nothing malicious in his actions and ultimately no one got hurt apart from a few very sensitive Wellingtonians;

  2. the dropping of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service against Lesley Vainikolo after the jury had failed to return a verdict. It now seems that there's a new defence to charges of assault that goes along the lines of "I'm famous, I was shitfaced and I thought that I was going to be attacked so got my retaliation in first and punched the crap out of him" - as patented by Scouse footballer Stevie Gerrard;
  3. the RFU Task Force report that concluded that "there is no substantiation whatsoever for allegations that cheating is widespread and systemic in the game either at international or domestic level." This, despite the fact that 12% of players questioned admitting that they knew of injuries being feigned in international matches and 41% saying the same thing in the context of domestic or European rugby. How much evidence do the RFU need to conclude that just there might be a bit of cheating going on?

Another issue to come out of the Task Force report is the issue of rolling substitutions. Now I know that there are many who believe that rolling substitutions will lead to the advent of specialist kickers being brought on just to take kicks and behemoth props being developed to bring on tactically at opportune moments, but to be honest I can't see much of an alternative for the professional game. As things stand the rules surrounding blood replacements are way too complex and, despite the efforts of the authorities, are still open to abuse. Removing the temptation to cheat by allowing rolling substitutions - albeit with certain safeguards such as limiting the number of substitutions allowed in a game - therefore has a certain logic.


Nursedude said...

Flanker, I agree with the FFR's decision on Basteraud. Like you, I think it was dumb...but to do any long term suspensions would be silly and counterproductive.

I think with the idea of rolling substitutions, you almost have it now with players who have to come off the field to go to the blood bin. I don't think you will have any hyperspecialization like you have with American football.

Pablo said...

If rolling subs are introduced using a rugby league-style "interchange" mechanism - i.e. you have your 7 players on the bench, and you can make up to (say) 12 changes and then that's your lot, hyper-specialisation cannot become a problem.

As a referee, I'm in favour of them - I then wouldn't have to care if the player leaving the field is bleeding or a front row or the president's nephew or whatever, and neither would I have to check whether the player coming on to the field was a substitute or a replacement, blah, blah, blah. All I have to do is count the number of swaps made - you reach your limit, tough - any further injured players get removed, but no subs come on for them. Requires v careful use of substitutions, as with soccer at the moment. Definitely in favour.