Just for a minute or two, I want you to step away from what you feel about the game of Rugby. I love the game, but I am more and more regularly finding myself frustrated with the state of the game. How often have you found yourself frustrated at a refereeing decision, or wondering what would been if a ref hadn’t run the game the way they did.
The truth of the matter is that Rugby is a game strongly influenced by specifics and interpretations of the rules, and the rules of the game keep changing. Will we even like this new game they are trying to create?
Lets compare Rugby with a pure game like Football (soccer). The rules of football are simple, you must kick the ball into the opposition goal. You need to stay onside, and you shouldn’t foul opposing players. That’s about it. The game is simple, yet it is easy to follow and understand, and because of this it is the most popular game in the world today.
Rugby is not simple. Ask someone who has been watching the game for 20 years to explain the technicalities of the tackle ball and break down? Or how a scrum penalty is awarded? Most simply won’t have a straight answer.
There is a real problem with the state of the game we love. The people that pull the strings time and time again show that they are more interested in turning Rugby Union into an elitist game with ridiculous technical rules.
Lets look at some examples. Many people would consider Richie McCaw to be one of the best players in modern rugby. Yet some openly consider him to be a cheat, who plays right on the edge of the rules. What sort of game can create such interpretive and varying opinions.
Refs make mistakes, often. But is it their fault that the game’s rules are so technical and open to interpretation that a game between the two same teams can be so different with a different official running the game. Look at the three instances this year – 2008 where New Zealand have played Australia in the Tri Nations. In the first game South African ref Joubert penalised New Zealand heavily, which removed New Zealand’s dominance around the scrum and tackle ball. Australia won. In the second game South African ref Lawrence didn’t penalise New Zealand so heavily and allowed them to dominate the break down, scrum and line out, and New Zealand won comfortably. In the third game, South African ref Kaplan, over refereed the technicalities of the game for both teams awarding a ridiculous amount of infringements against both teams. The game was close, but New Zealand just won. Same teams, different refs, completely different games.
Rugby rules rule rugby? What are your thoughts?