Tuesday, May 26th, 2009...9:32 am

ELVs: Bye Bye… good riddance !

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Source: Full ELVs deserve a fitting farewell– Spiro Zavos


THE Super 14 final at Pretoria next Saturday night between the Bulls and the Chiefs will, unfortunately, be the last major match to be played under the full ELVs. Unfortunately, because the two semi-finals were matches that reflected the best of the rugby code, with sweeping attacks and hard-shouldered defence in contrast to the intense, but dour, slog (lifted from time to time by Rocky Elsom’s ferocious charges) of the European Heineken Cup final.

The clash between Leinster and Leicester was played under a modified ELVs regime imposed on the IRB by the northern hemisphere nations – with the result that world rugby had the curious experience of the two hemispheres playing under different sets of laws. The main difference was that the southern hemisphere laws allowed for full-arm penalties for only three offences at the ruck and maul, whereas the northern hemisphere laws (which become the world laws after next weekend) have full-arm penalties for all offences at the ruck and maul.

In the Heineken Cup final, there were 18 full-arm penalties. The flow, energy and attack and counter-attack so evident in the Super 14 finals, with far fewer full-arm penalties, was generally lacking in the Heineken Cup final, where the action tended to wind down when play stopped for the full-arm penalties.

The running in the Super 14 finals was dynamic, especially by Pierre Spies for the Bulls and Sitiveni Sivivatu for the Chiefs. The ball was in play longer and what could be called the “running of the bulls effect” – the big players becoming leg-weary – came into play, allowing the faster, skilful players to make their mark. The pace of the Bulls-Crusaders match was so ramped up that even Richie McCaw was reduced to a slow trot by its end, and the massive, hard-working Bakkies Botha was substituted as sweat poured off him like from a draught horse forced to make too many long gallops.

COMMENTS: Sure, this single GAME may support his argument, but rules are played over a season, over many matches, and one must consider the mean of performance over a wide distribution of data.

  1. ELVs encourage the break down of traditional rugby roles between backs and forwards. Every ELV game has seen the promotion of forwards running with the ball outside a back. This ruins attack. A prop just doesn’t have the same skill as a 2nd five eight.
  2. ELVs encourage bodies over the ball at the breakdown. Awaiting the ref to determine who wins. The defending team know that the worse case penalty is a free kick to the opposition, that is an easy trade off compared to slowing the ball down illegally to prevent a try.
  3. ELVs saw the reduction of classical back line play, the only time that backs and forwards are completely separated are during scrums, and they were infrequent.
  4. ELVs encourage the ‘field wide defensive trench’. The long horizontal line of players fanning out across the field became more dominate due to the fact that forwards didnt need to go to the breakdown, as forward play has been eroded under ELVS and modern rugby.
  5. ELVs promoted kicking to over come (4) above. We all have seen this blight on the game. There will be less kicking when forwards return to their traditional roles and more space is found out wide.
  6. ELVs destroyed the maul. Further traditional forward play removed from the rugby.
  7. ELVs promoted short lineouts, with more opportunity for forwards to stand in the back line. I refer you to (3) above.

So I say, see ya ELVs, good riddance…Spiro Zavos watches too much Rugby League and doesn’t know one game from the other !

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