>> Can't disagree with any of that but I don't think it's an explanation
>> that neccesarily refutes what William is saying. I think the structural
>> problems are precisely a feature of the modern game. As players become
>> bigger faster fitter it effectively renders the playing area smaller,
>> which unfortunately has so many negative consequences; one of which, and
>> by far the most instrumental in how modern rugby is, is the current
>> trend of *** defences.
>> The most common answer is to have the forwards commited to the breakdown
>> which I completely agree with but it still won't overcome the overiding
>> issues of sheer lack of space.
>> Larger pitches needed.
> It's a common view, but not one I subscribe to. Yes, players are faster and fitter but at the same time the attacking players are also faster, bigger and fitter, wear skintight tops and the pitches are of better quality. The windows to break the line may be smaller but where players do get through half gaps the advantage has fallen more squarely on the attacking side.
> There are two glaring issues that can be solved more easily before one needs to be that drastic.
I don't think it's even arguable that under any circumstance and for
whatever reason if space is removed, due to the relative size of the
playing field, defence is a much easier beast to manage with the
implications of time dedicated to each aspect being weighed to one and
not the other. Sure coaches may have to be imaginative in different ways
to create that space to exploit and that is what they do, even if imo
it's not neccesarily a positive thing relative to what they might be
achieving with natural space already being present. For instance, how
often these days do you see true one on ones? rarely it seems to me.
> 1) Sorting out the scrum - it locks 16 players in. At the moment, too many scrums end on penalties or free kicks. This both means attacking plays convert to a kick and also means that an an attacking opportunity for the backs to run at their opponents without the back row covering is lost.
> 2) Breakdowns - it's better, but still a bit of a lottery. Effectively once an attacker forms a bridge over the ball and there are bodies on the floor to negotiate it is difficult for defenders to counterruck without risking a penalty for side entry or going over the ball. It's easier for them to fan out into the defensive line.
Completely agree, and bring back rucking at the top level, but I feel
these are a somewhat of a seperate matter to how the game is changing.
> The third issue is that you will - we do - get more attacking rugby when grounds firm up as opposed games played through wet winter months of heavy ground. Rain and heavy grounds are a great leveller and it's made this season hard work to watch.
Less space when wet and heavy grounds just ascerbate that particular
> S15 does not suffer from the same issues for several reasons. Partly because the scrums are less problematic, partly because the grounds are harder and partly because the attacking rugby is more precise. Where top sides in their respective leagues in Europe end the season on 3 or 3.1 tries on average per game the Chiefs top the points table and have scored, on average, 3.5 tries per game and both the Blues and the Crusaders have scored more than 3 tries per game so far. Last season the Hurricanes scored 3.6 tries per season and the Bulls scored more than 3 tries in the season.
> I suspect for both European and Sanzar leagues, if these rates are not above or on a par with pre-professionalism the culprit is more likely to be improved penalty kick rates and kicking tees rather than a structural problem affecting attacking play.
You may well be right. I can only think that if playing fields had
evolved in line with the evolution of the modern rugby player those
stats would be quite different to say the least.