Yes Nine a No-No

One of last season’s new rugby rules was recently scrapped, partly as a result of the potential danger to the offensive team’s number 2. Thanks to Alex Bax for his valued input on this:

The rule says:

“The scrum must stay stationary and parallel until the ball leaves the scrumhalf’s hands…”

Despite this requirement, the call “Now Nine” provided the offending team with an early warning, and robbed the team in possession of their advantage.

Apparently the referee will work out a signal before the game with the No 9, to indicate when he must put the ball in.

The following is an extract from an article on the SA Referees website:

The statement sent by Joël Jutge, the IRB’s refereeing boss, reads: ‘Up to now, the referee has been asked to tell the scrum-half that the scrum is ready for the put-in by the use of the phrase “yes nine”. But following an initial review, including consultation with national coaches and referee managers, it has been decided that referees will adopt a non-verbal communication to scrumhalves for the introduction of the ball. This is in accordance with the relevant law (20.5 Throwing the Ball Into the Scrum).

Now the referee will find another means, communicated to the teams before the match, of telling the scrumhalf when to put the ball in – dropping or lifting a hand, thumb up, giving a nod to or touching the scrumhalf – that sort of thing.

If the referee insists on a tap on the bum, I suggest the scrummie stay upright and gently kick the ball into the scrum.

Is there a Crown Prince?

In response to a request from a reader, we did some reading to establish what the experts think about a possible successor to Jaques Kallis in test cricket.

Kallis ended his test career having scored 13 289 runs, took 292 wickets and 200 catches. He is also the only player to have ever scored at least 10 000 runs and over 200 wickets.

An excellent article in Business Day titled Experts debate who will be heir to Kallis elicited differing views from Mike Procter and Shaun Pollock

Will the next real all-rounder emerge soon — particularly in South Africa?

“I don’t think so,” Procter said. “You wouldn’t say Ryan McLaren could handle both disciplines equally well and JP Duminy is not a good enough spinner.”

Pollock said the wait might not be long, thanks to modern cricket.

“You have a better chance of them coming through now because of Twenty20s. But you have to consider the quality of the player. Those able to make a big contribution with bat and ball in a Twenty20 game may not be able to make as big a contribution in a Test.”

Even Kallis, Pollock said, began with half the equation unsolved. “Initially, Jacques made a contribution with bat and ball in one-day internationals, but in Tests early in his career his major contribution was with the bat.”

Possibly the unique part of the Kallis legacy is that he excelled in three disciplines of cricket. That may be hard to beat – ever.

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