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New laws explained with two very informative pitch demos

I had no issue with Italy's tactics because they were within the laws, showed some fresh thinking that generated discussion, and to be honest, prompted Eddie Jones to make a goose of himself again. However, I think that a law which allowed players to stand beside the opposition halfback and loiter around in their backline, was a problem long term. I have no issue with that particular change.
I don't really see how any of the changes (even though I think at least one is entirely unnecessary) have any impact on the type of rugby experiences you've enjoyed (me too). I know that your general point is that you feel the tinkering is mostly just to get new "punters" in. But I think that many of the changes in recent years have been efforts to make the game work better for players as well. There have been some real disasters, like the crouch, touch, pause, engage travesty that immediately made scrums much worse. But, in my opinion some changes have been for the good of the game all round. Maybe the single biggest difference in rugby in the past 30 or so years has been the organisation and effectiveness of the defence. As Michael Lynagh has said, the wrap arounds and skip passes that so often worked a treat in the 90s, are just not so effective any more. Without recent changes that allow the halfback more time and space, and encourage quick breakdown ball so defences can be stretched and broken, I think the balance of the game regarding attack and defence would be much different now, and to the game's detriment.
So I agree, stop the pointless fiddling… but it's not all pointless.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

New laws explained with two very informative pitch demos

I think it's possible, in fact necessary in this world, to be both a sport and a business at the same time. Especially at the top levels.

I never had any problem with Italy's tactics on the day and thought the "it's not rugby" complaints were nonsense. However I do think that longer term there would be more minuses than pluses for the game if the offside law wasn't tidied up at the breakdown. Something like this change was inevitable.

I really don't get the need to stop a player coming through the ruck and kicking at the ball. Barnes says something like "pretty negative, isn't it". Since when? If the halfback is faffing around at the back of the ruck and the opposition player breaks through the cleanout and gets a toe to the ball, good work, play on. What's negative about it? It's not as if it happens a lot, and surely the current situation encourages the halfback to get on with it. This is fussy tweaking just for the sake of it.
Barnes also mentions the abuse he'd get when a tackler legally picked up the ball from the "wrong" side and wasn't penalised. There are a few good flankers who took that abuse for years. McCaw knew the law well, although I think even under this new change he'd still snaffle more than his share, one way or another.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

New Zealand snatch victory in Bledisloe Cup thriller in Dunedin

Law 13.3 says it's a scrum at halfway with the opponents having the put-in.
Maybe it's hard to tell in many cases and refs don't want to be shown up by the replay. I think they should call any really obvious ones early in the game. I'm sure that would have the desired effect.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

New Zealand snatch victory in Bledisloe Cup thriller in Dunedin

Without doing a count-back of recent great matches, I generally agree with you, he's a terrific ref. Yet I didn't think he had a particularly good game this time. But when two sides are set on playing an open attacking game, Nigel's the man.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

New Zealand snatch victory in Bledisloe Cup thriller in Dunedin

Fair enough, flanker. It seems that on this point at least, we're pushing the same way.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

New Zealand snatch victory in Bledisloe Cup thriller in Dunedin

You're guessing. And yet the Aussies appeared to be, to quote one commentator, "miles in front of the kick-off" at times. I'd be happy to have consistency from refs on this too, but you can't just complain about a single instance while also admitting you have no evidence.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Top 5 Tries from Round 2 of the Women's Rugby World Cup

I'm genuinely interested in what you consider to be "the golden era". Depending on who you listen to or read, the golden era of rugby could be during any given period since the 1880s. What are the criteria? I probably played the game for several years during someone's 'golden era'. There was some great rugby being played in past decades, but a lot of dull, inept and frankly boring rugby as well… a lot. In my opinion, even allowing for the greater amount of rugby being played generally, these days there is more skilled, attacking and entertaining rugby than ever, and this in a time where the biggest improvement in the game in recent years has been in the organisation and effectiveness of defences. Even at the highest level, defences in the past were sometimes woeful, as Youtube can often demonstrate. The brilliant players of the past were no more brilliant than today's best, and had to contend with much less effective defences.

6 Months, 1 Day ago

Series drawn as All Blacks and British & Irish Lions decider ends in stalemate

"…that probably favoured the abs on balance." I haven't spoken to a single person who agrees with that, and they weren't all NZers.
Other than that, like you I'm also not entirely certain the ball went forward, but the point is that Poite decided it did go forward and the player was offside. No matter what anybody might fantasize the ball was momentarily grabbed, and then dropped on purpose. Nine times out of ten that is given as a penalty.
However, the ABs should have put this game away long before that and they'll know it.

7 Months, 2 Weeks ago

The most controversial moments from All Blacks vs Lions 2nd Test

I think you're being much too kind on O'Brien, DrG, his retreat wasn't a noble "right thing to do" having whacked Nadolo across the head. At least we agree that he knew he'd hit him, but strangely O'Brien himself disagrees with that idea. He told the panel he didn't even know he'd hit him until the next day. How he kept a straight face I don't know. And the panel says they believed he wanted to (quote) "get on the ball if the opportunity presented itself". Well Nadolo was flat out on the ground with the ball rolling free, yet O'Brien showed no interest in "getting on the ball". He made himself scarce.
I understand that the Papé case was different in some respects, including that it was to the chest not the head, and Papé wasn't left semi-conscious on the ground… yet O'Brien still got a week's suspension. That's the important difference for me.
Anyway, it's a good case (among many others) to keep in mind the next time we hear about those nasty All Blacks always getting away with things.

7 Months, 2 Weeks ago

The most controversial moments from All Blacks vs Lions 2nd Test

In my opinion the intent is clear in the replay, anyway. O'Brien struck him across the head with his forearm. His hand, open or closed, was not going at the ball. O'Brien told the panel that he didn't know he'd hit Naholo until the next morning. The way he connected and then immediately backed off… he knew.

7 Months, 2 Weeks ago