Rolling Away at the Breakdown
In the Bulls v Brumbies game the Bulls were robbed by poor refereeing after the siren had gone and that because of a questionable penalty where Brumbies players were off their feet and clearly lying all over the ball. This was ignored and the Bulls were penalised. It was a decision that decided the game, as Brumbies proceeded to kick the match-winning penalty in the last minute.
A breakdown interpretation, this season, that seems to put the player in an impossible situation, is the crackdown on the tackler rolling away towards the opposition halfback, ‘McCaw’s law’ as Phil Kearns calls it. I agree with it to a degree, stopping players from intentionally slowing down and disrupting the opposition ball, but there are instances where it cannot be helped. Now you can see the predicament: if the player does not roll he will be penalised for not rolling away, but if he does roll he will be penalised for disrupting the opposition ball. But the intent of the player should be the key thing here and is what needs to be looked at.
There are times when a player is trapped and the only way they can get out is to roll towards the opposition side of the ruck.. An impossible situation that sometimes cannot be prevented.
I personally feel that in years gone by, the scrums and rucks were less of an issue than they are today. I remember the days that players raked transgressors out of the rucks and scrums if they were lying on the wrong side and even before that when forwards would ruck over players on the ground sometimes mountaineering over the top. Very few guys collapsed a maul or pulled down a lineout for fear of being trampled or raked or just plain stamped on.
Call me a traditionalist, but I often wonder why all of these new laws and different applications and interpretations have been brought into a game that was functioning perfectly well enough.
Why fix what ain’t broke. The game is becoming a problem to police. One ref has been superseded by four, plus TV and off field cards and penalties. What happened to the scrums and rucks where players or hookers hooked the ball and whoever could dig in the rucks and come up with the ball is the one who won it. Scrums collapsed but the ball still came out and those that infringed in the scrums got dealt with by the players.
There were fewer restarts by far and I don’t think injuries were any higher then than they are now. Strong Chubbies for front rows, tall skyscrapers for locks and speed and fitness for flanks and eights with the flashy fast players in the backline. It worked —– so who stuffed it into the “almost rugby league” box.