Martin Devlin: Too many penalties are ruining the Rugby spectacle

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Jun 2020, 2:36PM

Martin Devlin: Too many penalties are ruining the Rugby spectacle

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Jun 2020, 2:36PM

Stop. Start. Penalty. Stop. Go for a little bit. Stop. Penalty.

Rugby not only has got to get its game on, it's got to get on with getting more game IN. Rugby as a spectacle, when played well, can be nothing short of glorious. There's a certain thrill of seeing someone flat out, ball tucked in, just gut-busting it through a gap with chasers closing and try line looming.

This is what the sport wants to be, thinks it should be and needs to get back to being. Because modern day rugby is bloody complicated.

The rhythm and flow Murray Mexted used to talk about is mostly interrupted flow and staccato rhythm. The first round of of SRA saw 60 penalties blown, last weekend almost 50, so a reduction by ten has to be seen as an improvement.

But at some stage, somehow, we need that figure down again by half. Twenty penalties a game is still one every four minutes. The game stops and starts enough as it is, so less is definitely way much more. But is it actually possible?

With every best intention from everybody involved I'm still not so sure.

After two rounds of the new comp I see a game that's hogtied itself with so many rules there isn't a person on the planet who genuinely knows them all.

This Field-of-Dreams of ears-pinned-back racing for the corner is being suffocated under a blanket of side entry's, incorrect body posture, not supporting your own weight, truck'n'trailers, hands in, hands on, hands off, too many hands.

SRA is being seen as a global experiment in trying to re-right the game. Not re-write, but re-right.

Because no new laws have been added here it's just enforcing those which have been let lapse while providing sterner clarification around physically contesting the ball. From those considered experts at these things, the last two weekends have hardly seen a wrong penalty blown.

And we're also told there could've been quite a few more. So rugby has no choice but to get this right. The final irony being that as much as right now we're hating all  these penalties, they're also the best chance of getting our game back.