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Is Rugby Dying a Slow Death?

All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, was not exactly charmed after watching two Six Nations matches last weekend, according to an article in the NZ Herald.

Hansen outlined his fears for the game after watching what he believed to be drab, defence-dominated Six Nations encounters between France and Wales and Ireland and England at the weekend.

“I’ve actually got big concerns about the game at the moment, because there are not enough tries being scored, which is turning the fans away,” said Hansen, a former Wales coach who has set the standards with the All Blacks.

“I think there’s a responsibility on the coaches and the players as well. We are trying to get defensive lines up really quickly, but I think we’ve probably gone too far with it.

“There’s a responsibility to the game. If we don’t do that, then we are not going to have any running rugby.

“There were only three tries scored in the two games I went to over the weekend. No-one is prepared to take the risk, because they are going to get belted behind the advantage line if they move the ball.

“If we want to encourage people to watch the game, then scoring tries is what does that.

“We can get blinded by a loyalty to our team or we can say to ourselves, ‘Is this really the game we want?’

“If we don’t address it, then we are going to get very boring rugby matches.

“We are about to go into a showpiece for the sport at the World Cup. There are going to be millions and millions of people watching it and then all you’re going to see is people kick goals.

I would like to add to what Hansen said by also involving the rule makers.

Compare this to Varsity Cup, where the points system forces teams to want to score tries, rather than kick penalties. Surely, by now, the effectiveness of this and other experiments are very clear?

Ek onthou die dae toe ‘n drie nog ‘n drie was, nie ‘n vyf nie. So baie het sedertdien verander, maar met min effek, behalwe om die spel so gekompliseerd te maak dat die enigste sekerheid groot onsekerheid is oor die toepassing van die reëls.

Ons het al vantevore gepraat oor die proefnemings wat gedoen is by Stellenbosch Universiteit se koshuisliga. Die gebruik van twee skeidsregters is krities in die moderne weergawe van die spel. Dit gaan nie net oor voorspelers wat oortree as die skeidsregter aan die anderkant van die skrum is nie. Weens die tegniese kompleksiteit van die reëls is vier oë beter as twee. Die assistant skeidsregter, wat soms aan die verste ent van veld is, kan noodwendig nie so goed sien soos iemand wat teenaan die skrum staan nie.

Die rugby-owerhede kan gerus Hansen se waarskuwing ter harte neem. Die All Blacks is immers die mees aanskoulike span op die planeet, ondanks die reëls, en nie as gevolg daarvan nie.

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