There are certain laws in rugby that frustrate almost every single fan as they favour defence, rather than allowing team to play open attacking rugby…
The Held Up Tackle (sorry maul…)
Who on earth though that allowing the defending team to tackle a player, hold them up, and then simply fall on top of the ball was a good idea? Yes the law is slightly more complex than this, but fundamentally as soon as a player is held up by more than one defender, you can pretty much guarantee that the referee will be calling maul. Whilst this in itself isn’t great, the fact that the defending players are then seemingly able to collapse said maul without penalty, before lying over the top of the ball is frankly ridiculous.
Given how stringent officials are over trapping the ball at rucks, this seems completely contrary to playing any form of positive rugby. This has led to the choke tackle becoming a common occurrence in rugby as not only does it stop offloads, but if performer correctly pretty much guarantees the defending side a scrum, which inevitably leads to 12 resets after the big lads up front decide they need a break from holding up little scrum halves before falling on top of them and killing off the attack.
Scrum Half Placement During Scrums
Who thought letting the smallest angriest player on the pitch hover around the back of scrums was a good idea? Those little terriers are guaranteed to jump on anything remotely ball shaped and pretty much always guarantee that a pick and go by the 8 is stopped before they can even get going. The idea of allowing defending scrum halves not just to play handbags with their opposite number during a scrum, but also wander round to pretty much the number 8 stops any real chance of some excitement happening before the inevitable collapse.
Fortunately some bright spark in SANZAAAAAAAAAAR has had the bright idea of putting a leash on the little bastards and restricting them from moving past ‘the tunnel’. This at least gives number 8’s the chance to pick the ball up before the opposition nine starts humping their leg or jumping all over their back as they attempt to gain some momentum (you’ve got to give the big lads a chance after all). This is definitely a trial worth keeping an eye on as it should hopefully prove to everyone else scrum halves cannot continue unabated.
The Defensive Line At Rucks
Ok, so maybe this isn’t currently a law, but given the way most professional teams are coached these days, their placement at a ruck is becoming increasingly detrimental to the game. It’s not so much about where they stand, but more to do with when they start to move off said ‘line’. Referee’s have become so concerned with shouting ‘use it’ at scrum halves (despite no obvious incentive for said scrum half to actually use the ball), that they completely miss half the defensive line already being five metres offside.
Whilst this rush style of defence has been incredibly successful at closing teams down, it hasn’t exactly increased the entertainment value of rugby. Maybe the answer is for officials to actually pay more attention to the 10 players creeping offside after every ruck, or maybe the answer is to set the defensive line a metre back from the ruck so they can’t playing crouching tiger, hidden dragon every time. Whilst we’re at it, perhaps it wouldn’t harm to send the rugby league coaches back to coach rugby league?