Bring the ruck back into rugby
Well, after a bit of a break it is time to start blogging again. The jolt that the Cheetahs gave the Sharks in their Super 14 rugby clash is probably just what I needed to get off the couch and behind the keyboard.
The boys from Bloemfontein really took it to the Sharks and were well rewarded for their efforts. So what have been the outstanding moments of the Super 14 so far in 2009?
Well, the ELV’s haven’t helped in the slightest at the breakdown. Each week we see different interpretations and to be honest I do not actually even know what the rules are anymore. What the IRB needs to do is to reintroduce rucking at the breakdown.
A bit of good, old fashioned mountaineering will soon sort out players falling over the ball, players being on the wrong side of the ruck and players with hands on the ball much quicker than the ELV’s will ever be able to do. Give the ref’s a bit of discretion about what is dangerous rucking and what is “legal rucking”.
Then we will see teams like the Bulls get good, quick ball that Wynand Olivier could play with and with deadly finishers like Brian Habana lurking, the Bulls would be difficult to beat. Imagine Bakkies and Danie Roussouw cleaning out the ruck by going over anybody lying on the wrong side.
New Zealand rugby has also suffered from the sanitisation of the ruck under the new laws. Touring teams of the past knew that when touring New Zealand they would be taken out on the ground if preventing the ball from coming out by lying on the All Black side of a ruck.
The hard men of the game would again take their righful place. Brad Thorn from the Crudaders, All Black Ali Williams and other big men like Schalk Burger and Juan Smith would flourish under the old rules.
Too many times this past weekend we had to witness cynical play as teams are prepared to sacrifice a free kick to give their defensive lines time to settle.
Adam Thomson from the Highlanders impressed as a stealer of the ball who stayed on his feet and competed well. Juan Smith stood out but I wonder what has happened to Schalk Burger this season? One hardly notices Burger on the field but in fairness the Stormers pack is soft up front, forcing the loose forwards to tighten up. Maybe Schalk feels “whistle whipped” under the new rules. It would be interesting to know how many of the yellow cards Schalkie has picked up over his career relate to the breakdown. Too many, one would imagine.
Jonathan Kaplan had a bit of a shocker in his game over the weekend, but was not helped by his over exhuberent touch judge who made some odd calls. But the Aussie and Kiwi commentators made up for bad refereeing in no small measure.
Stu Wilson calls a spade a spade and we really need to hear more from the former All Black winger. From dissing a New Zealander for not having the guts to take a high ball to asking if there is a mould in South Africa that enables us to churn out monster packs, the Kiwi is a class act.
Phil Kearns and co also have their moments and are not as bias as the Aussie commentators of the past.
Can the Sharks and the Bulls go all the way? Hopefully the Sharks got their wake up call and will march onto the semi finals, while the Bulls just need some consistency to their game.
MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND: Bakkies Botha blowing kisses to Phil Waugh after the big man dealt out a bit of medicine……….