Monday, 21 April 2008

Something for everyone

Yet another cancellation saw me scratching around for a game again this week. The re-appointment officer almost apologised for the perceived quality that was available, but as it’s been six weeks without a proper run out, I was grateful for anything. The home side were an irregular vets side, Old Wimbledonians, and the visitors, MetroNet, were appearing at their first match but the pre-match first impressions wasn’t indicative of what was to come.

The visitors, in red, started well with the wind behind them giving good field position and some pacey backs offering good scoring potential. This arrived with a smart looping move into the corner. Their forwards were coming off second best to the home side, and tempers were getting heated, particularly as a couple of Green tackles were a little high, but not deliberate. Green number 8 was a particularly “lively” chap and held some strong opinions on how the game should progress. I made it clear I wanted his temper controlled and mouth shut, that said, I recognised I would have to watch him over my shoulder.

Both sides where managing to play good rugby and things were finally balanced following a Green try. A promising chip through from Red, gave them a good line out position, but I was pleased that from a glace behind at the kicker, I saw Green 8 trip him. I offered Red a penalty at the kick or a line-out where green had carried it out (on the 5m line) – not a penalty but a good use of advantage. Green stole the line out but turned over the ball. They failed to roll away, but I came back for the penalty which Red took quickly and Green failed to pull their defence to cover; try time and complaints from Green. Yes, there were players in front of the kicker but they did not obstruct as was there was no defence. Quick thinking play rewarded.

The second half had started with a few changes and a warning about tempers to both captains. Red pushed hard against the wind and a promising move on Green’s 22m looked to be a certain score, until a fantastic interception from Green 12 saw him race up the field to score and convert. Despite his speed and my ‘size’, I made it to the 22m to award the try!

Red pressed forward again but were pinned back by an amazing 70m touch finder from the new full-back, right on Red’s 5m. The ensuing play saw Green squeezing for a push-over try but the reward was a penalty against the Red front row standing up. The Red loose-head then complained of a sore neck and requested un-contested scrums. As there were no other replacements I had to agree, Green had a great advantage removed and were not happy. Green now held a 15-10 lead and we headed in to the last 10 minutes of the match. Red’s dangerous winger finally got some space and belted down the line; the full-back came across to cover and pulled him into touch by his collar. Penalty try and a yellow card, the score was now 17-15 and things were getting tense.

Green pushed up field and Red held on to the ball in the tackle and conceded the penalty which Green converted, 18-17 with less than 5 mins on the clock. I realised that there was little scope for error on my behalf if I was not going to determine the result. Red pressed into Green’s 22, and Green’s scrum-half (who had been the No8) tried a box kick to clear from a ruck, the ball when up and down landing about 2m in front of were he kicked it. This put his entire pack off side if they choose to play it. Which they did! A penalty under the ‘10m rule’ - my first! Red just had to slot the points from a very kickable position, but they tapped it and two phases later some one dropped it! Green pressed up field and returned to 15 men. There was to be once more play and again Red’s winger steamed up field and it was looking like a final twist. He cleared the full back, but the touch judge (a Green player) signalled a foot on the line. I was happy that it probably was and blew for full time.

A great game, with drama and some fantastic play, the tension and passion bubbled under the whole match but I kept a lid on things. The assessors comments from last time helped, with fewer penalties but I still need to cut chat and I don’t think the scrums were well-enough managed.

Welsh RU against proposed laws

Lets face, win or lose, Wales deliver a pretty entertaining performance under the old laws.

WRU boss Roger Lewis said: "It's not in the best interests of the game that these laws are introduced en masse."
There a couple than would tidy things up but the package is flawed

BBC SPORT Rugby Union Welsh Welsh RU against proposed laws

Ieuan Evans told Scrum V: "I can imagine Australia's sticky fingers being all over this. The laws look like rugby league by stealth.
And which country dominates rugby l**gue??

Now hopefully, the RFU (and England have more to loose in their "style" under the old laws) will see these ELV kicked in to touch (sic). The money may come from Sky but Sky's rugby income is heavily reliant on the UK.

"Apparently, the ELVs are intended to increase ball-in-play time, but the ball-in-play time in Wales' games in one half alone was around 33 minutes."

Wales v France this year set a new record of over 56% ball in play time, it is rare for Super 14 to be more than 40%.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The thin end of the edge

All referees make mistakes from time to time, they know, you know it though they will never admit it to a player on the park. The Laws of the Game are very complicated and many infringments are committed simultatiously, the role of the referee is to determine which is material and to ensure that positive play is rewarded. To do this he need to command unquestioning authority from those on the park, this proposal would under-mine that.

Just when you thought the rules of rugby couldn't get more confusing From ScrumBag

It would show us up to be human!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Referee Wit

From the Times

Statisitc Porn

For those of statistically minded nature, this makes interesting reading. Most fascinating is the record for ball in play during the Wales v France match; 57% or 46 minutes 08secs all without the ELVs!

IRB Six Nations Analysis

Referees and ELVs

The London Referee Society is one of the largest and best organised referee organisations in the UK and possibly the world. The Society provides officials for everything from U13 matches through to national leagues. Many professional referees have graduated from its ranks, the most famous being Wayne Barnes (if you don’t know who he is, ask a Kiwi).

Last night at one of our meetings, we where addressed by a senior RFU referee development officer. Discussion turned to the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs), he was at an IRB meeting last week and it seems there is a strong desire by the IRB to trail these at EVERY level of the game and this could be as early as next season. Previously, the IRB has pledged not to change Laws in the two years prior to a world cup, which would not leave much time for analysis before they became permanent. Apparently, the Six Nations are cautious but not yet against the experiment.

More about the ELVs Here

The mood of the refs present was generally hostile. Most agreed that some ELV made sense; corner flags not being in-touch, not being able to kick straight to touch from the 22 and even 5m off-side at scrums. It was the ruck and maul proposals that met with hostility; it was felt that the grass roots of the game (players and spectators) did not want change and had not been engaged in the discussion. The use of free-kicks instead of scrums to re-start play would radically alter the balance of play, and whilst the game would become faster, this would not suit all players (and officials!).

The IRB Playing Charter states with the Object of the Game that “ The wide variation of skills and physical requirements needed for the game mean that there is an opportunity for individuals of every shape, size and ability to participate at all levels

The lower emphasis of the scrum would lead to a lesser role for the tall and round, and fewer people participating in the game.

My view was the majority of the refs present felt that ELVs are not what the community game needs and Law changes should not be rail-roaded through because the professional game (and the Southern Hemisphere in particular) sees this as the way forward. There are far more people playing in fields up and down the country on Saturday afternoon than playing at the top level who deserve a say, on this and they don’t have voice.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


I've been tagged by

The rules are:
The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
Each player answers the questions about themselves.
At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.So, here goes...

What I was doing 10 years ago:
Getting divorced from Heather Mills evil twin
'Enjoying' the single life
Thinking Molley Molone's (Richmond) was the best a Saturday night could get
Having trouble keeping my weight up at 86kg
Playing great rugby

Five things on my To Do List today:
Finally write this
Appeal against my wife's parking ticket (again)
Find Fitna on YouTube
Go to Gym (postponed until tomorrow)
Book train tickets to Hull

Snacks I enjoy:
pork scratchings (the real snack porn)
plain crisps
Jamon off the bone
mixed fruit, nuts and seeds

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Bank roll London Welsh and pay for its supporter to learn the laws
Buy a row of debentures at Cardiff
Bank roll the Libertarian Party
Never drink cheap wine, except at my Southern French/Tuscan Villa

Three of my bad habits:
Nose picking
Penny wise and pound foolish

Five places I have lived:
Mostyn, North Wales
South Kensington

Five jobs I've had:
M&S assistant
Letting Buildings Manager
Student Union Sabbatical
Private Banker

Current position:
Waiting for Dinner

Five people I want to know more about (in other words the five people who I'll be bothering later today...!):