Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fuck you Australia

Forgive me for gloating, but I feel a need to do so in this instance.

The ELVs are dead.

At least, the vast majority of the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) trialled by rugby's governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB) this year have been deemed a complete failure, and rightly so.

These botched experiments combined to transform the game of rugby union into a grotesque spectacle of kick and chase, one which disgusted hardcored fans and turned off potential newcomers. Why some were admittedly successful, as I shall go on to discuss later, the vast majority failed immesurably and are rightly being consigned to history's scrapyard.

Chief among these atrocities was the attempted introduction of the law whereby the rolling maul could be pulled down so long as an effort was made to do so between the hips and the shoulders of the opposition, an action previously unthinkable under the previous laws of the game. Firstly, this law removed one of the great spectacles of the game, the rolling maul, whereby forwards could truly exert their power, suck in opposition defenders and free up space for backs to pull off attacking moves. Secondly, this variation was never properly policed. Opposition defenders constantly sought to nullify the maul by pulling down the opposition via the legs or head of the opposition. It was doomed to failure and rejection from the very beginning and has rightfully been jettisoned.

The lineout was another area of the game which the powers that be decided to tamper with unnecessarily. By removing the restrictions on numbers in the lineout, whereby both teams originally were required to have an equal number of players present, they removed the role of the lineout as an effective contest. Defending teams could move players out to the backline to nullfiy an opposition attack or pack the lineout to make contesting opposition ball an easier task. The original excuse was that the lineout would become an easier task for referees. As a referee myself, I can safely say that the lineout was never a difficult area of the game to adjudicate. Yet another folly which the IRB has come to realise, thankfully.

Those recommendations among the ELVs which will be implemented are for the best, chief among them being the introduction of a 5m offside line at the scrum. This allows for backlines from both sides to pull off setpiece moves to great effect and allows both number eights a wonderfully open platform of attack. While I would have some reservations about the acceptance of the rule which dictates that a kick directly into touch from a pass back into the 22m area will result in a lineout from where the ball was kicked, I do not see it as a rule which will fundamentally influence the game for the worst.

So, there you have it. Rugby will not be changed for the worst. Fuck you, Australia.