Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008...11:50 am


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The single most damaging rule change in the last 30 years has been the removal of traditional rucking methods. The resulting confusion of how to manage the breakdown has been the continuing debate since there removal.

Source: Free kicks blight ELVs– Warren Gatland

…“Players will ride the line and that is no different from last year,” said Gatland.

Since rucking was removed, it has become much tougher for referees because where once players would know what was coming if they were on the wrong side of the ruck, now they make the tackle, hold on then make a slight effort to roll away.”….

My argument for rucking, is that rugby it is the last great world sport where two nations battle in full physical contact. It is as close to team martial arts as you can get. You have four divisions on the field: tight forwards, loose forwards, inside backs and outside backs. These four divisions are used to contest with the other teams divisions with a wide array of tactics and skills not seen in other sports. Allowing both hands and feet to be used, but not a the same time.

Rucking defined: To use the base of the boot in a stroking motion to clear the ball (while a ruck is formed). The base of the boot can and may be used on opposing players hindering the immediate clearance of the ball. The use of rucking should not breach the gentlemen’s rules of physical contact.

Rucking has been removed by IRB memos re writing referee interpretations over a number of seasons. Currently any lifting of the boot is considered to risky by any team as a means of clearing the ball. There was no trial period with the right of refusal (unlike the ELVs). I would guess that the motivation to remove rucking was sourced from TV money. I concede the vision of rucking is not attractive. I would suggest that broken legs and necks are not attractive (nor is it to me), and as these injuries are mostly sourced from scrums and the tackle, these contests in rugby have not been treated the same way rucking has, and nor should they be, but some how rucking has fallen foul of the ‘not nice on TV’ brigade. If rucking was given the same level of importance to the game as scrums and the tackle then rucking would still be in use today.  This is a critical mistake. The IRB have under estimated the importance of rucking.

Rugby should be issued with a health hazard and playing the game is acceptance of the hazard. (To quote Tana Umaga ‘It’s not tidly winks ref!”) If you want to watch or play rugby you (especially new fans and mums) must accept that its closer to boxing than it is to soccer, there is going to be a little blood, lots of bruising and minor soft tissue damage from bodies smashing in to each other. Both rugby and boxing is a challenge of the mind and human spirit. (To quote Mike Tyson “Every one has a plan, until they get hit!”)


Source: Bring back rucking to get rid of cheats – Duncan JohnStone

I recommend one change that would accomplish what they are trying to do to liven up rugby – bring back rucking!Eight weeks into the Super 14 and a major flaw in the new laws has quickly been exposed: the breakdowns are now simply a licence to cheat.They are more of a mess than they ever were and until referees get tougher on dealing with the serial offenders this new-look rugby is going to be the same old stop-start affair.The ELVs were designed to make the game faster and give it more flow. But last year’s nemesis, the scrum, has been replaced by the free kick as the most frustrating feature of the new-look game.

The ELVs call for free kicks instead of penalties for some offences. As a result, players are prepared to flop all over the ball to cut off or stall the opposition’s supply because they know they will usually cop a free kick rather than a penalty.

And a free kick allows their defence just enough time to get organised.

You sense that the free kick is also an easy option for the referees, allowing them to sidestep the issue of narrowing their focus to the real culprits at the breakdown.

Until the referees dish out early penalties or yellow cards, the cheats will prosper and rugby will be reduced to a stuttering game of bull-rush.

The simple way to speed up the supply of second phase ball is to return to rucking, a rugby tradition sadly eradicated by the same people who are now trying to fix the game.

The conspiracy theorists would suggest that hard-core rucking was removed from the game to depower its best exponents – the All Blacks. They are probably right.

The PC brigade that dominates much of the sporting and social world these days will argue it was removed for safety reasons. Yes, there is an element of danger to rucking but there was always an unwritten law that said the head was sacrosanct. Players who brought sprigs and scalp together knew they were in for justice, either in the form of a dust-up, the referee or the judiciary.

But there never was a quicker way to get an opponent out of the wrong side of a ruck than to give them a tickle up. Correctly done, players could be rolled out of a ruck with military precision through clever use of a boot or two.

Conversely, players knew what to expect when they were caught in the wrong place. Desperate times called for desperate measures and if the consequences were ripped jerseys and bloodied backs then these scars were worn with a sense of pride. Ask Buck Shelford. He was quick to dish it out but he was equally happy to take his medicine as well.

The thing with rucking was that, by and large, the players sorted out the mess themselves, eliminating guess-work from referees. Most importantly, they ensured quick ball was available for use when it was needed most.

At the risk of sounding like a rugby dinosaur, that simply isn’t happening enough in today’s game.

What we have is a game where cheats prosper and the refs run the risk of tennis elbow from dishing out so many free kicks.

There are obvious merits to some of the ELVs, most notably the 5m rule at scrums and the pass-back into the 22. It will be fascinating to see how many, if any, survive the cut when their architects, the IRB, ultimately make the call on their future once the northern hemisphere sides play with them.

To me, rugby would be better to look back to move forward and return rucking to the rough and tumble of forward play.

Refereeing bosses will claim that technically rucking is still allowed and that it’s merely the motion of the boot that differentiates rucking from stamping.

If that was truly the case, why don’t we see it in use?

Rucking has clearly become too risky and is now a forgotten – make that forbidden – art.

It needn’t be. Right now rucking should be seen as a solution rather than a sin.