Saturday, September 13th, 2008...7:54 am

ELVs – NZ press are turning negative

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Source: ELVs just no good so let’s dump them– Evan Pegden

Southern hemisphere rugby has been sold a pup and it’s time to come clean and ADMIT IT !

The ELVs or at least the ones aimed at solving the perennial problems at the breakdown and speeding the game up are not working.

Yes, the ball is in play more but much of that time is spent watching it sail through the air in a glorified game of forceback the type we played as kids but never envisaged our elite players would turn into a yawn-inspiring art form.

Many of these experimental variations are worthy, such as the quick lineout throw that doesn’t have to be straight, the five metres that backlines have to be back from scrums, and the outlawing of kicking out on the full from within your own 22 if the ball is passed back to you from outside it.

But let’s face it, the free kick-fest that promised to speed the game up with lots of quick taps, while keeping the set pieces important by having lots of scrums when the quick opportunity is lost, is not quite working out the way we thought it would. Instead it has become a kick-fest of a different type.

It hasn’t solved the breakdown problems because it has just made the referee’s job even harder as he tries in a split second to make the correct ruling at the continuing pile-ups, conscious that the onus is on him to keep the game moving.

The result? Even more of a lottery when the individual differences in referees’ rulings are taken into account. Teams have quickly found it is not worth the risk of turnovers, which now happen so easily, or free kicks in their own half so they kick more.

Aerial ping-pong is the result, and the quality of the kicking has not generally been that good, although some are becoming adept at that exciting attacking option, the midfield bomb, with the best hope being a 50-50 chance of regaining possession,

My Comments: After reading an article in the NZ Herald quoting Pat Lam (Auckland Blues Coach) as he slammed some of the ELVs I had a feeling the NZ rugby press had finally woken up. The main reason why the ELVs pulled so much southern support from day one is that you have two desperate CEOS (Tew/O’Neill) wanting change in the hope that it would bring in more revenues. The crack in the NZ media started when Wayne Smith coined the phase ‘aerial ping-pong’, well that started the snow ball down the hill, media all over the rugby world are using this in there negative tone of the ELVs. There are 23 ELVs, 15 being used in Tri Nations, I think you will see about 4 surviving the trials (5 meter behind scrum, quick throw ins changes, no passing behind 22, corner post changes).  Up north Eddie Jones is a good barometer of their train of thought.

Source: Eddie Jones sticks to his guns

        This is what Jones had to say in his column in The Independent on Saturday:

“There are far fewer scrums. We had only five put-ins against Quins and went through the second period without a set piece called in our favour. Speaking as a former hooker, that really hurts.

“And the line-outs? We had 11 on our own throw. As recently as 2003-04, a team could expect the best part of 20 line-outs and at least a dozen scrums. This is a massive change that goes right to the heart of the way a game is plotted and played.

“Under these laws, teams are kicking more. We all thought it would happen, and so it has transpired. If the ball spends longer in the air, it spends less time in the hands.

“If there are fewer passing movements and fewer drives – even the basic pick-and-go routines around the fringes of the rucks look like becoming more scarce because of the way referees are controlling the breakdowns – there will be fewer knock-ons or “unplayable” calls at the tackle, and therefore fewer set pieces.

“Rugby is meant to be a sport for specialists, one for all shapes and sizes. This has always been, and remains, its mission statement – its guiding principle, if you like.

“What price specialists if we continue on this current path? Am I going to pick a prop who is really destructive in the tight but slow around the field if the number of scrums is way down in single figures?

“Ultimately, the answer will be no. Our scrum coach is Cobus Visagie, who also happens to be one of the best tight-head technicians in the game.

“The favourite one-liner at (Saracens) at the moment is: “Hey Cobus, what do you do for a living these days?” The last thing I want to see is these blokes disappear.”

And so say all of us.

My Comments: To be fair what Eddie Jones is seeing is the same trend that happened in Super 14 2008, teams start off playing too loose, then latter on in the season they realise that structure is required to break down field wide defences. So the season starts off with the mad hatter tap and go all the time, and will end with more scrums and lineouts near the business end. Well that’s how it happened downunder. In the end the generic ELV game will be a mirror of the Super 14 2008 final. So if you are a northern rugby coach get the inside oil of how to win an ELV game from this blog ! (ha).

All the downunder ELVs cheerleaders with their word in print on the internet, will look a little stupid soon. The TV commentators in NZ/AUS with their blind puppy love for the new world order of the ELVs will soon tone down there trumpet blowing and follow the more honest swing of mainstreet thinking that these ELVs in their current form must not survive. See my ELV amendments, thanks.


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