Saturday, 31 October 2009
His argument is that, because the "big hit" is now king in rugby, injuries are now pretty much inevitable. Whereas the tackle used to be about putting someone on the ground, it is now all about taking him out physically. The tackle has, in reality, been replaced by the collision. Rugby, he says, was always a hard game, but it was never this violent.
To a degree I can see his point. When I started out I was always taught to tackle low, around the legs and, to a large extent, I still utilise this somewhat antiquated practice. There's no doubt, however, that over the years tackles have become higher and higher and now it is perfectly acceptable to smash your shoulder into the opposition player's chest, aided and abetted by the prevalence of padding and protection that was outlawed back in my day.
Mr Reason concedes that rugby is relatively safe up to the age of 15 but beyond that he asks a very pertinent question: "How do you tell a lad who thinks he is immortal that rugby is just not worth getting smashed up for?"
With a 6 year old son who is currently mad about football and Doctor Who (although not necessarily in that order), it isn't a question I have yet had to face. And, if and when I do face it, I can't honestly tell you what my response will be.
Friday, 30 October 2009
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Dear Steve & Wayne,
I’ve just had a brilliant idea. Seriously.
You know we’ve been a bit below par this season? You may have noticed, eh? If it carries on like this it might get a bit embarrassing when we head to Europe. Well, no worries boys, I’ve got a plan.
Steve – you’ve had 6 years to sort the forwards out, mate. If you look at your contract of employment with the NZRU you’ll see that clause 8.3.2 (c) (vii) requires that you must regularly “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” What happened? Without Hayman we’re just shocking upfront bro. The lineout in particular is stuffed. How hard can it be to chuck the football at the tall bloke in the air?
That’s why I’ve taken the decision to move you to attack coach. There’s heaps of talent still in our backline – I suggest you don’t interfere and just let them get on with it. Don’t stuff it up.
Wayne, mate, for some reason the tries have dried up this season – possibly because you’ve been telling the players to kick the football all over the paddock every time they get it. I know those Northern bastards refuse play by our rules but can’t we hang on to the ball occasionally? That’s why I’m handing Hansen the job of attack coach. Yes, that’s right, a forwards coach is taking over, that’s how bad it is – his knowledge of kicking is about as extensive as his lineout coaching prowess. Hopefully he can’t do too much damage.
Our defence, on the other hand, is still awesome – no surprises there as that’s my bit. No need to change anything there. Hang on a sec though, with Hansen in charge of attack there’s no one to coach the forwards. I guess I could do that – I mean, how hard can it be? Jump in the lineout, push in the scrum – hardly rocket science. I’m perfect for it.
That leaves defence. I guess you’d better do that Wayne old chum. Try not to stuff it up. Just to tell the boys to keep doing what Uncle Graham’s been telling them and she’ll be right.
Well, there you have it. A masterplan for our assault on Europe this November.
I’m stoked, what could possibly go wrong?
The Right Reverend Graham Henry
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Friday, 16 October 2009
England manager Martin Johnson, meanwhile, still appears to rate Borthwick highly, both as a player and as a captain.
So the question one has to ask is: Who is the best judge of the qualities required to be an international lock forward?
(a) an opinionated Welsh rugby hack; or
(b) one of the world's best (if not the best) 2nd row forwards and captains ever to play the game?
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
I must admit that I've never really been a huge fan of Sevens. I hated playing it as there was nowhere to hide and, for me, watching Sevens has always been more about the beer than what happens on the pitch. On balance, however, I suppose that Olympic status is good news for the game at large.
As for Golf, I really can't fathom how it can be an Olympic sport. Olympic gold is hardly going to be the pinnacle for the likes of Tiger Woods and the proposed format - 72-hole individual stroke play and a field of 60 players with the top 15 world-ranked players automatically eligible (whatever their nationality) - hardly seems to fit the Olympic ideal.
I can't help feeling that the IOC may have missed a trick here. If Golf must be included, why not seize the moment and include Pub Golf instead, providing hope and opportunity for dedicated beer drinkers of all nationalities to come together and compete in quaffing pints (or litres if the Eurpoeans have their way) of ale over an 18-pub course for Olympic glory.
Pub Golf would make for spectacular TV viewing and might even be an event in which Great Britain would excel. And as an exhibition sport at London 2012, it could well turn out to be the focal point for the Games.
Or, failing that, why not Spoof?
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Sunday, 4 October 2009
- the suspended sentence handed down by the FFR to Mathieu Bastareaud for telling porky pies about his "assault" in Wellington in June. An eminently sensible decision by the FFR. Yes, Bastareaud was stupid, but there was nothing malicious in his actions and ultimately no one got hurt apart from a few very sensitive Wellingtonians;
- the dropping of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service against Lesley Vainikolo after the jury had failed to return a verdict. It now seems that there's a new defence to charges of assault that goes along the lines of "I'm famous, I was shitfaced and I thought that I was going to be attacked so got my retaliation in first and punched the crap out of him" - as patented by Scouse footballer Stevie Gerrard;
- the RFU Task Force report that concluded that "there is no substantiation whatsoever for allegations that cheating is widespread and systemic in the game either at international or domestic level." This, despite the fact that 12% of players questioned admitting that they knew of injuries being feigned in international matches and 41% saying the same thing in the context of domestic or European rugby. How much evidence do the RFU need to conclude that just there might be a bit of cheating going on?
Another issue to come out of the Task Force report is the issue of rolling substitutions. Now I know that there are many who believe that rolling substitutions will lead to the advent of specialist kickers being brought on just to take kicks and behemoth props being developed to bring on tactically at opportune moments, but to be honest I can't see much of an alternative for the professional game. As things stand the rules surrounding blood replacements are way too complex and, despite the efforts of the authorities, are still open to abuse. Removing the temptation to cheat by allowing rolling substitutions - albeit with certain safeguards such as limiting the number of substitutions allowed in a game - therefore has a certain logic.