Reply to ESPN Scrum – (25/03/2014)
For the compliment on my point No 3 and for the stick on the rest. I don’t take it personally and please you do not either! All these are personal opinions, and in fact the chances of the IRB to take heed of them probably are 1000 to 1 or negligible.
The laws of the game ARE NOT pretty good, they are PRETTY ARCHAIC because they do not take into account the spectators. I am talking and demanding a MACRO UPDATE not micro management initiatives.
In my playing days 30 years ago our great maxim was: “Rugby is a sport for participants and not spectators, we play for the enjoyment of the 31 people on the field”. How selfish of statement that was?
Well let me tell you, this CULTURE still prevails with some teams, players, coaches, referees and administrators too. Very simply in 2014 (this is the Punch Line) if you don’t have money in the Bank, you can’t pay the personnel (which is huge these days) and clubs will go bankrupt very quickly when their spectators get sick of being bored with law conflicts, and will go to other sports, as you do! The spectators need to be embedded within rugby because today professional sports are a very competitive industry, so is any other industry.
So, the Laws are screaming for an update, that bestows more responsibility to all stakeholders and reduces REFEREES INTERVENTIONS as well as ADMINISTRATORS APATHY. ALL STAKEHOLDERS (synonym of “partners in the business”) must contribute, be responsible and protect the Game-Show-Business with whatever trade or skill they might ply. I talk about this at length in my book: http://www.theartofscrummaging.com
Cheating or contravening the law IS NOT ON at any level in a democratic society! The Law must be adequate to address that. And the referees should be: a) sufficiently prepared to handle it professionally; b) The Law must provide the TOOLS for Referees to be ENABLERS and Supreme Copurt Judges (not nit picking Constables, Managers of players or Pseudo-Lecturers on the field). You could see now, Why we need this MAJOR OVERHAUL.
Referees with today’s Scrum Law have 32 points of infractions at scrum time that could penalize either team for! Do they possess the brain, the ability and common sense to operate like a computer all within 3 o 4 seconds to master the scrum and its outcomes? NO.
But the IRB at their “Draconian best” keep adding work to the Refs’ plate more responsibility, more to do, more and more! (See, am not against the Refs, I feel sorry for them!) Referees need to be helped by SIMPLIFYING THE LAWS. One simple way is to give them MORE DISCRETION in prioritizing OUTCOMES over PROCESS and Minutiae.
I mentioned above “democratic society”, I really think that the IRB does not operate democratically utilizing the best experts available around. It operates more like a “Rugby Aristocracy” and only occasionally tap into its own “Meritocracy”. Self-Sufficiency is a great attribute however without proper due diligence and consultation could be “a curse” (e.g. Crouch-Touch-Pause-Engage maligned engagement sequence, 2005). This is one of the reason why I do not hesitate to point my fingers on to the right direction, “the designated provider of solutions and administrator of the game”.
Excessive cheating as you have portrayed is a true reflection of POOR LAW, POOR LAW ENFORCEMENT and POOR GAME MANAGEMENT, which supports my argument for the need of an urgent MACRO INTERVENTION on all the Rugby Laws. You referred to the “a mindset change”? This is what I call: CULTURE and LAW CHANGE (we are in agreement here!)
Penalties are awarded for three reasons: a) Foul play; b) Bad intentions or poor attitude; and c) Lack of skill. The game is played at high speed and high level of physical confrontation, it would be really ludicrous to expect a great deal of continuity when rugby is designed to favour confrontation and ball possession dispute.
I’d like to remind you, you are able to watch a game because there are players that do play and provide the spectacle. You don’t seem to trust much the players to be able to display sportsmanship, do you?
let me say: I do not oppose the idea of “stopping the clock” for scrums. However, being realist here, I think the TV Entrepreneurs may go two ways: 1) Adding 15 or 20 more minutes to the satellite transmission is not viable. 2) Having another 15/20 minutes of adds will probably pay for it and make more money indeed.
So my point here is that any “NEW INITIATIVE or new changes” are almost ruled with iron fists by non-rugby people. Professionalism and Commercialism demands it! What really irks me and kills me and rugby too, I think is the TMO stoppages where 60.000 people (even more with the broadcast) are none the wiser for good part of 1 or 2 minutes! Only two or three people know what’s going on. This is to me the “black sheep” of rugby.
You didn’t spare any ammunition, did you? Because I’d love to give them something myself too. In fact I have been doing it since 1995 (19 years ago). I could write a thick book about the things John O’Neill did wrong or got other people to do wrong for him. You are absolutely correct on your claim, the “Australian Rugby will go bust”. In fact after the 2003 RWC in Australia, the ARU announced a profit of $45.000.000 which was allegedly distributed: $30M throughout the Australian clubs and $15M put in trust of ARU.
I personally said that in 5 years time (2008), it will not be enough money to cover the expenses, I think the debt reverberations were heard before that and it has been a struggle ever since. To culminate with a $20.000.000 debt in 2013! (Jim & Topo “the prophets”). I continue looking at the big picture, the strategic changes for 10 to 15 years, the NADIR of any organization. What’s wrong with the sport full of extremely successful and very well educated professionals? Why is it that cannot rule their own destiny? So generous and plentiful of solidarity on the field!…. Yet, so selfish, self-centered and pathetically short sighted OFF it.
THE BIGGEST BLUNDER EVER,
In my modest opinion was: After 1995 when rugby was declared No Longer Amateur by the IRB. Every country had a free rein for at least 24 months to strategically master their own destiny and market. For Australia with the popularity of cricket and rugby league, football (soccer) and basketball growing was always going to be tough to compete for ($$$) “market share TV rights and space”. HONESTLY, I CAN’T REMEMBER HOW MANY TIMES AND HOW MANY PEOPLE I SPOKE WITH AND SAID: Australia needs to become more INCLUSIVE as vs. EXCLUSIVE. It was pretty obvious that the ARU needed to open up their marketing base to aggressively recruit, poach, attract, seduce and lure any SPORT SUPPORTER NUT from the other sport. They continued till today, squeezing the trusted and faithful rugby follower until a big part desserted to other organisations where the treatment was “fair & reasonable” for their dollar. What happened next? The same air of exclusivity was flaunted by officials, administrators and the “Old Private School brigade”! RESULT: Here we are with $20M IN RED and unable to extricate ourselves from our TRADITION & EXCLUSIVITY aura!
After empting my both barrels of the Smith & Wesson, am a little short of ammunition for this one, but would like to say to you: When you refer to Aussies in rugby, I think you are probably talking about 500 people involved with the running of affairs at the ARU (with players and all) and may me another 500.000 followers that are NOT like that. In fact traditionally and culturally (another generalization) Australians are not innovative, “keep up with the Joneses syndrome” (it means when Mr or Ms Jones do something, then I will dare doing it too, but not before!) Apart from well documented efforts of wars, bushfires and natural disasters acts of public heroism, sports and the Olympics, etc. Aussies are very conservative and don’t want to be brave! – It’s the very strong running “tall poppy syndrome” sentiment.
Concluding this, I reiterate that all Mini or Micro-changes in rugby will not change “the culture, the attitude and the mindset” and they will be of a short term benefit for a long term chronic problems. It will certainly not put rugby in a favourable global light against other more dynamic (yet simplistic) sports. We are living an era of “instant information”, quick snippets and not too much depth. So….we must adapt to this “social media syndrome” without compromising the essence of rugby.
I love rugby because IT MAKES ME THINK (on the field and off the field). In rugby we need to adjust to: a) The opposition; b) The Whether; and c) The referee. The three factors pose problems or questions to us and we need to solve them on the go choosing and changing your strategies and tactics, within 80 minutes. After that there is no recourse, cope it sweet, cope it tough. This and the fact that people of so many different shapes and conditioning can play and contribute to the team, (of course and more importantly with the same set of rules and laws, like life). And after the match everybody can enjoy a drink, a chat with the opposition and referee too and occassionally share some music. This is, after all, what is wonderful about rugby!
So get ready, roll up your sleeves, we need to bring it forward from 1970’s into 2014-2020