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Where are we going?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where are we going? Rugby has become a massive industry, and the days of beers and after match cheers are a thing of the past. Rugby has come a long way since it went professional in 1996 and Players and franchises alike are earning millions from the sport they so love. It is a multi-million dollar industry and an amazing spectacle worldwide. The question is, are we delivering the expected amount of entertainment to ensure that rugby worldwide is growing.With added reward comes added pressure, and I feel this pressure has filtered into the way our teams play this wonderful game of rugby. Winning has become the obsolete, and simple game plans with effective quick results has become the order of the day. Pressure has become king and this has led to a negative approach to how we play the game.Instead of wanting the ball, to play and to express our abilities, to wow the crowd and to perform, We put the ball in the court of the opposition, and wait for them to make a mistake, Teams spend most of their time practicing how to get rid of the ball, and how to force their opposition to fail in their attempts to attack when they receive it. Instead we should be practicing how we can cope with this pressure and can succeed in scoring tries from it.Besides the obvious of scoring tries, the longer a sequence of a game is live and in play, the more exciting the spectacle becomes. If this period of play has less rucks, and more movement of the ball from player to player, the excitement is heightened even further. Turnovers and the resulting counter attack is the last added factor which really makes a game reach its viewing pinnacle in terms of excitement and viewing pleasure. So if we take all this into account the rugby powers should be thinking of innovative ways to force teams, and games to run along these lines more and more. Every team is different, and the beauty is that each team can differ tremendously in terms of strategy, tactics and the way in which they implement their game plan, but it seems all teams are playing the same rugby. Is this because they see results?Yes, well if we take the Currie cup final as an example, there was most definitely a result for the Sharks franchise as they strangled Western Province and took home the cup, but what about the other 5 teams. Should we all now be playing the same game plan, and the team whom implements it best will win!? Or can we create ways of playing which are worlds apart, but at the same time still interesting to watch? Im not saying the Currie cup final was not entertaining because it really was, I am simply asking where are we heading, and can we grow the sport, and grow the spectacle which we call rugby?The most entertaining 5 minutes of rugby I have seen for the last 10 years was the last 5 minutes of the kiwi’s vs Wallabies match of 2 weeks ago. 5 minutes of non-stop rugby, blasting 80 meters down the pitch , back and forth, with multiple turnovers, line breaks, offloads, good collisions and accurate breakdown negotiation flowing into a fast and brutal period of play which would have never been played had it been any other team in the world. I highlight the all blacks and commend them. All they had to do was put the ball into touch and claim victory, but after the buzzer had gone, and they had lost and regained possession multiple times they are persistent to PLAY, have a crack, to try and play beautiful and attractive rugby… this was for the spectacle, not for the prize money, not to save their body and get off the pitch without an injury, not to please critics and win with a large margin, but simply playing, because they didn’t want it to be over, because they enjoy playing in front of the crowd, and till the 83rd minute still want to impress and perform. That is rugby in its essence, and what it should all be about!! 

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by Dr. Radut.