Friday, July 11, 2014

The Top 5 Moments from the 2001 Super Rugby Season

As we approach the knockout stages of this year's tournament, Sean Maloney and Rugby HQ take a hilarious look back at the 2001 Super Rugby season, one that produced some classic moments that included great tries, incredible celebrations and bizarre off-field antics.

George Gregan - in studio as this is presented - features with some onfield ballett that we posted ourselves way back in 2007, and Stephen Larkham delivers an outstanding try-scoring pass. The Blues' try was incredible, as was the puddle, and the rest is pretty much just good fun.

As Sean said on twitter, it's the most fun he's EVER had on-air, and it shows. View more Top 5's

Posted by Rugbydump at 2:29 pm | View Comments (25)

Posted in Top 5 compilations

Viewing 25 comments

Ron_Mexico July 11, 2014 6:53 pm

Instant classic. These guys are great

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larry July 11, 2014 8:22 pm

The good old days, when shoes where black and shirts had collars!

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WillieRyan July 11, 2014 11:12 pm

Looks like they've gone back to the political correctness standards of 2001 as well. #letslaughatthismidget

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larry July 12, 2014 1:59 pm

And the midfield was slightly less cluttered, and rucks still looked like rucks, more or less.

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DrG July 13, 2014 11:44 am

You mean at like 1:36 where most of the 'back line' is made up of forwards? I get where you're coming from regarding shirts with collars, but how have rucks changed and how has the midfield changed? Rucks have always been about being sensible and not pouring in more people than necessary and midfields have always been the same, especially in defence!

Oh yeh, not to mention #3 involved a number 8 being on the outside of a 14... how does that work?... you know you don't have to play an entire game running around in this position:

Are you confused with 7's or something???

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larry July 15, 2014 7:53 pm

I'm not confusing anything. It's not as though forwards didn't ever get in the back line back in the 70's and 80's when I was playing. Of course a backline that is not over-marked just might open up play where a forward or two finishes off a move started by backs. Most of the current laws of the game, regarding tackle, rucks and mauls, and I might as well throw in lineouts, were already in place by 2001, meaning defensive forwards actually fighting for ball in rucks was becoming "unnecessary." I was just watching an old video of the US v Canada game played in May of 1996, one I attended and saw, and one of the commentators pre-match described the new tackle laws that were just put into play, saying that "over-rucking" and "unnecessary rucking" would phase out of the game. Of course that just led to what we have now, the cluttered mid-field. The new scrum laws at the same time were supposed to "even out" things offensively, with all defensive forwards having to stay bound until the scrum was over.
Ironic that one of the T shirts that can be bought on this site is about the lack of real rucking that goes on in the game in recent times. "Bring Back Real Rucks" is what it says. I wholeheartedly agree.

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larry July 15, 2014 7:56 pm

Actually the T shirt says "Bring Back Rucking."

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DrG July 15, 2014 8:30 pm

Broken record here on my part - As a second row/back row blah de blah, I disagree with comments on lineouts etc...

Now that's over, I somewhat agree with rucking, but what the t-shirt; I believe, is referring too, is the use of boots within a ruck. I support that, rucks are too slow as a result of players having no fear of lying on the wrong side fiddling with opposition ball(s)...stick a boot on him and he's bound to move, put a boot on his hands whilst he's slowing the ball down and that minimal pressure makes them move..

Not 'over rucking' is smart play and in some ways the new laws they brought in whereby players have to use the ball within a certain matter of seconds is a positive step (albeit a retrospective "Oh s**t we've made a mistake here, lets try and double fix it.." step...) But in the past we've seen teams holding the ball at the back of the ruck waiting for time to die down and opposition pouring in to try and counter ruck and getting no where, and it was all a little too negative for my liking. Smart rugby through good technique can help reduce the need for vast numbers as now 1 player can bore through with a couple following and do as much damage as a herd of players..

You must also recognise how the design of players has altered... props, whilst still often some of the heaviest, are no longer reliant on having a beer gut to up their weight - ergo players are fitting faster and stronger, so they're making these covering tackles and spreading across the field much faster than the days gone by... Remember Keith Wood? Hardly a 'typical' hooker. Every year players are helping to mould what is a more useful shape...

I'll admit there were parts of 2003esque rugby that I prefer to modern day stuff, but bearing in mind I was still a school boy it is hard for me to know 100% on that type... as for the modern game? The lack of boots in rucks and the introduction of soccer characteristics is much more of a worry to me.

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10stonenumber10 July 15, 2014 11:40 pm

I think what you are getting at is 'back in the day', rugby was self governing when it came to dirty stuff, rucking and 10 man pile-ups.

I was only 14 in 2003, with nowhere near the tactical knowledge or playing experience I have now, but since then I feel the biggest changes to the sport is the scrum engage, and fly halves 5m behind the back foot rather that at the back foot. The back foot rule came into play some time between 6th form and 2nd year uni.

With players the size they are nowadays, and the speed of the game, that 5m makes all the difference. Some props are quicker over 5 yards than the back row, and can shift around the park. Gone are the days of specialist scrummagers. 100kg with an extra 5m run up is going to take a whole lot more stopping.

Mismatches are not quite the same now, you expect a centre to smash a back rower instead of going backwards, and the 10 channel to be watertight. In 03, tackling was still optional for some of us backs!

Remember, the 2003 world cup was only 8 years after the game turned professional. The first crop of players to grow up with the professional game playing in the final (assuming they joined a club age 16-18, and turned out age 24-28). Don't forget that these players were selected in the Amateur days based on Amateur principles, not the new high tech gym monkey work in progresses teams field nowadays. Front rows were heavy. Back rowers were hard as nails, locks bullied backs and backs danced around the forwards. Now, obscene physical specimens are shoehorned into positions where they are most likely to get a game rather than be a natural player of the position.

Old skool rucking was beneficial to the sport, but it brought in too many variables. Like Conkers in the playground, it only takes one to get an injury before the nationwide media hype banning it in playgrounds...

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DrG July 16, 2014 1:47 am

I actually hadn't considered how young the professional game is. Unfortunately for Larry, neither yourself nor have ever played rugby in the 70's or 80's.. So sadly Larry, it's a bit like saying to yourself "School in the 90's was better than ever before", which I'd assume you'd question with a raised eyebrow, but not actually be able to dispute having never attended school in the 90's... So all I can do is base my replies on my opinion of the game that I have known over the years.

One pet peeve is our disagreement on lineouts, you have experience "adults" performing those "waiving hand lineouts" whereas I have experienced it at school level - I can personally say it's the most unskilled rag tag disorganised part of the game, at least compared to lifting which when done correctly requires good timing, technique and communication.

As for the rest of the game 10stone10 has nailed this point in the past and with the previous comment, to add to it though:

What is the recipe for a 11 year old wanting to become a pro rugby player?
a) Practice footskills, passing skills, kicking skills 90% of the time and gym 10%
b) Practice footskills, passing skills, kicking skills 10% of the time and gym 90%

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finedisregard July 16, 2014 5:16 am

Interesting exchange.

As far as lineouts what the law did with lifting was turn an individual skill to a group skill. If you guys didn't play back then it was quite different. If you had a very tall or very skilled jumper you could basically kick for touch with impunity from anywhere on the field.

Having a great lineout jumper was akin to having a great kicker on your squad. Many guys specialized. Of course it was also a great place to sort people out, refs hated it, and it looked like a mess on tv.

Most of the changes come from the game morphing from an enjoyable player-centric activity to a polished television spectacle driven product.

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10stonenumber10 July 16, 2014 1:03 pm

Gone are the days of Back, G. Smith and Betsen. Small by back row standards, but they had that ability to bore through a ruck where others wouldn't fit, and remain on their feet to avoid the inevitable shoeing. Judging by their faces though, a set of studs were never too far away.

Ronan O'Gara. 90% skills, 10% gym.

BOD was 90% skill when he first hit the scene too. Bulking through the seasons to around 04-05 he was too heavy, even the commentators were saying he had lost his pace. After the Lions dislocation he re-wired himself and was every bit as dangerous before the years caught up.

We won't have another player like Wilko starting as a slight 18 year old. Tait showed us why that won't work against Wales, shame he had to be the example, it ruined his confidence.

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stroudos July 16, 2014 1:18 pm

I'm not disagreeing with you because these are rarities, but here are a couple of exceptions to the rule:

Back row - Steffon Armitage, Heinrich Brussow
Flyhalf - Quade Cooper. Also, I may mistaken, but aren't Goerge Ford and Freddie Burns relatively small?
Wing (not that he's small but certainly ticks the 90% skill, 10% gym box) - Caucau

At least scrumhalf seems to persist in being a sanctuary for the more diminutive gentleman, with only Mike Phillips and Mauro Bergamasco(!) really bucking the trend...

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larry July 16, 2014 2:56 pm

I need to add one more comment, and it's about the second test of the SA NZ series in 1996. That was one of the great games of rugby ever played, and the possession of the ball was back and forth. The new tackle law was in place, but the game was played more or less as though the laws hadn't changed. The forwards were fighting for the ball at every breakdown, whether all in or not. It was a very entertaining game, and part of it, from my view, was that mistakes were made by either side, sometimes leading to scoring, but it also meant that no one side was using a game of three yards and ruck, three yards and ruck, three yards, and ruck, this more modern tactic created since that time! The ball was moved out when it could be, and kept in tight with forward rushes when it had to be done, but the ball was kept alive by both teams when they had the ball until they lost it from tackles, knock ons, or kicking away possession. Any ball won at a ruck wasn't kept stactic at the rear foot for very long in that game!

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DrG July 16, 2014 5:58 pm

"Wing (not that he's small but certainly ticks the 90% skill, 10% gym box) - Caucau"

HAHAHAHA, 90% skill 30% KFC and 5% gym...

Excuse the 'Anchorman' maths there, but the point still stands..

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larry July 17, 2014 3:06 pm

I agree with your comment about TV. I does seem that laws have been changed so that the TV spectator can see what is considered a better game to spend time watching. Sure, those who governed rugby wanted to change the laws so that there would be less stoppages, and to encourage more try-scoring, but for those of us who played before these changes, the game isn't like what we played. It just doesn't seem right to me, how the game is played now. For instance, what was so bad about 22 drop outs that the laws were changed so they rarely happen anymore? Regarding lifting, the first law allowing it was better, because it still meant a jumper had to jump, and then be supported. And certainly professionalism has meant those bigger and stronger have all the time they need to train, as I assume they make enough money so as not to have a real job (which isn't true here in the US: our better players are playing club rugby in Britain for their coin).
Going back to the 22 drop out, I ref mostly 2nd division college games here in California. I called one this year when a ball kicked into the in-goal was touched down. The team dropping out had to sort out what they needed to do, and check with their coach on the sidelines. I asked the captain what was the problem, and he said they had only practiced it a few times before the season started, and it was the first time they had to do it all season, and this was near the end of the season.

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larry July 17, 2014 2:15 pm

I started playing rugby in 1973, at age 18-19. There was really no high school rugby yet in California. So I started in "university" and went on to play club side rugby after school. The standard of rugby was okay, not great, back then. Did improve in the 80's some. Yes, I did play in the day when forwards were expected to commit to breakdowns at the tackle. I played hooker first, moving to fullback for some games in school, and later in club rugby played fullback and wing.
I did see a lot of rugby on the TV starting with the 1991 World Cup (I went to the first one in 1987). In the mid-90's international games were broadcast by the International Channel here in the US. Later Fox took over the station, and it was put on a premium channel, so it cost more to see these games. I taped a lot of those games in the mid and late 90's. So I did get to see how the game started to change, which is why I make the comments about the game looking more like League (and I saw League first in 1986 when I visited an uncle who lived in Sydney, and he was a Balmain Tigers supporter). I also started reffing in the mid-90's, usually 2nd division university matches, a fairly good standard of rugby, and coaches were changing tactics to take advantage of the laws and their changes then.
I see rugby now as a game in which the ball is expected to move horizontally up the field. Of course it was when I played too, but there also was an emphasis in moving the ball vertically up field too, and that took a pack that moved together with ball in hand, shifting it out to the backs when there was an advantage to do so.
That vertical movement now seems to be these endless recycled rucks. One way to change things might be to change the laws as to when a ball is actually out of a ruck. If the scrum half or acting scrum half puts hands to the ball, it should be considered out, and the defense can come across as long as they were on-side to begin with. That could speed things up!

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larry July 16, 2014 2:46 pm

Holding the ball at the back of the ruck: well, there was a change made recently about that, a five second rule. It's similar to the use it or lose it regarding mauls. There was that double fix in 1996: the scrum rule about keeping bound in, but the new tackle law about rolling away, either side, that was supposed to make for quicker ball and I would add easier ball for the team who had the ball and were responsible for starting the ruck by going into the tackle. I think that's where things got dodgy and, with the hiring of League coaches for defense, various forwards started fanning out covering and over-marking in the mid-field. You're playing days has been from the "pro" era onwards, and I imagine you might see old vids of games, such as back any number of decades pre-'95, and see a game of forwards fighting for ball, and backs waiting for that ball, and quite a bit of kicking, whether tactical or kicking away possession, sometimes really good possession. So it seems like the old laws allowed for games in which much time was taken by forwards rucking and mauling, and some of the time they broke down, the ref blew the whistle, and one side or the other, depending on whatever law was in place at the time, got the put in at the scrum . And those put ins were in right down the middle, until the 80's, or a penalty was called. And 1 out of 10 put ins might be won against the head by the defensive scrum. So there were many lineouts (there could be upwards of 80 or 90 in any given match) and scrums. With all the stoppages in play that could occur, it doesn't mean that all games were boring. There were gaps and overlaps created by quick ball. If the backs weren't utilized, forward rushes from loose play were effective offensively, and there was more of an attempt to keep the ball alive rather than going to ground to set up a series of recycled "rucks, " as that's what has evolved. I find that tactic boring, and it does lead to over-marking in the mid-field.

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10stonenumber10 July 16, 2014 4:01 pm

I see what you are saying. But this is where the coaching at low levels falls in.

How many of you had a rugby coach at age grade who was in his 50s? Still coaching the game 'they played', and it became the english staple.

I believe the northern hemisphere was slow to adopt the '15 man rugby' after the game turned professional, treating it as 8vs8 with the backs to finish, attritional warfare played with men who could punch better than they could kick a football.

It seemed in the 'old game' (i've watched a lot of the classic games, broadband internet expanded my rugby knowledge a ridiculous amount), the kicking away of possession was for when players got isolated. This again is due to the changing game, back then the big lads couldn't shift so well, and rather than get swallowed up by the defence and concede possession, it was deemed better to put boot to ball so at least it became a contest than a turnover.

There was an interesting comparison with the Olympics. Had Jesse Owens run today, on today's tracks with modern spikes and timing, his world record would have left him only 12ft behind Usain Bolt. For Usain Bolt, that is 1 and 1/2 stride lead, or about 1/4 of a second.

Rugby isn't the same. Yesteryear's halfbacks would struggle to bench their bodyweight, now Will Genia holds the record for the backs in Aus, and many scrum halves are pushing some truly disturbing numbers... had they played in the old game, a shove in the side when feeding the scrum would have thrown the oppo into touch

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10stonenumber10 July 16, 2014 5:27 pm

sorry to add another... but even players like Leigh Halfpenny. I don't know if it is just rumours, but apparently he is pushing near Olympic qualifying weights for his size.

That's the thing though. You can play 1,000 games of rugby and never progress if you don't have the talent. Go to the gym 1,000 times and you will have progressed, regardless of talent.

What i'm saying is that muscle can be added, but you either have a rugby brain or you don't.

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larry July 17, 2014 2:39 pm

Yes, rugby has changed. I question if it's all for the better, though. I do not like the "guaranteed" possession aspect of the new game. Recycled rucks are really just that, unless a player knocks on. There is more 15 man rugby played than before, but I'd like to remind you of the 1971 Lions: they played 15 man rugby for much of their tour in New Zealand, less so in the test matches (and that's the first international play I ever saw, on a film screen, as my college coach had some 16 mm film of those games, and he showed us some highlights of those games at our end-of-season banquet in 1973; now they are on You Tube, and I've made a DVD of them). I really like to re-watch the first match of that test series, because one sees that the All Blacks moved the ball in the pack much of the game, and the Lions tackled well near their own goal. But the All Blacks were moving that ball up and down the field a good portion of that game, yet still lost it.
I'd like to see more of that sort of tactic: forwards moving the ball in a more vertical attack, and not dying with the ball to set up that recycled ruck. I really think that takes practicing passing, and practicing using that tactic. My old club had a few New Zealanders on it back in the 80's, and we practiced that move in a drill, backs with forwards. There's more of an emphasis now on making longer cut-out passes, and moving the ball upfield horizontally. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to see less phase play and more open loose play, with ball being off-loaded quicker to supporting runners.
There's this 5 second law now, but what about the ball being at the rear foot? When you think about it, if a scrum half or acting scrum half puts hands to ball, and doesn't do anything but check for a number of seconds as to whether the ball should to left or right, isn't that really hands in the ruck? Hands on ball should mean the rucks is over, and the defense can come across.

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DrG July 17, 2014 8:28 pm

Certainly agree with your last sentence, I used to love demolishing anyone that did that in the past... now it's become a grey area.

As for the rest of your comments - sadly I think this is the way of life, you're looking back 20-30 years ago and saying "the game is not what it used to be".. I'm looking back 5-6 years ago and saying "the game is not what it used to be"... rucking laws specifically...

I think give it another 10 years and we'll both be sitting down wondering what the hell this game is we're seeing with you thinking it's far worse than I think it, but we'll both agree it's equally as odd...

Only to be told by some pimple covered 18 year old twit that it's progress... Actually, saying that, it'll be a full blown game of Sarcastaball by then...

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stroudos July 22, 2014 12:04 pm

Larry - I'm fairly sure that once the scrumhalf has hands on the ball he is still fair game. the five-second rule means he has four-and-a-bit seconds before he has to put his hands on the ball.

I'm pleased to report that at the level I play at, (with most teams fielding an average age of 40-45), the scrumhalf is frequently smashed well within any 5-second range.

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stroudos July 15, 2014 6:38 am

1:06 - have to say I sympathise with George Gregan here. I'm completely in favour of respect for referees but to some extent it must go both ways. Prodding him in the chest like that is no way for the ref to behave. It's Andre Watson isn't it? Always was a bit of a wanchor, to be honest.

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