I'm glad my father is dead

2012-09-24 07:15

Chris Moerdyk

My father loved rugby. He coached successful rugby teams and was rewarded by being made an honorary life member of what was then The Northern Transvaal Rugby Union.

He died 16 years ago and I'm glad he's not alive today because the way rugby is being played right now, would have killed him.

Had he not been cremated I am quite sure that he would be turning in his grave.

I am also an avid rugby fan. I've played the game at junior provincial level and I am an avid supporter of the 'Boks and any team that plays Australia.

But, I have to say, I am getting a bit bored with it. And so too are a lot of my friends and family.

I am getting frustrated watching a bunch of big forwards getting a ball out of a ruck and then immediately passing it to another bunch of forwards over and over again, who immediately dive back into the fray and maybe, with luck, gain a metre of two of territory.

I get even more frustrated when I watch them do this for the umpteenth time and then knock on and give away possession after having gained a few metres.

I get suicidally frustrated when at last the scrumhalf sends the ball out along the backline but instead of going from centre to centre and out to the wing there are about five or six lumbering forwards who have embedded themselves in the backline and either go to ground to start a whole new boring round of ruck after ruck or they knock on and give possession away.

How iconic players like Bryan Habana manage to stay positive is beyond me because their chances of getting the ball from a backline filled with interfering forwards are about nil.

But, what makes me absolutely murderously mad is when the kicking starts. Scrumhalves and flyhalves who religiously follow instructions to kick high up and unders.

I spent countless hours during the past few years keeping as record of how often tactical kicking actually worked. Generally speaking, those up and unders, grubber kicks and so forth actually only work about 15% of the time at best. Which means that 85% of the time all that is happening is that possession if being given away.

It's the same thing with kicks to touch. I often laugh at commentators who applaud a player for getting a really good touch kick. But what they fail to do, as with all kicks, is not just look at the immediate result but consequence.

All, very well getting a good touch kick in but what happens next when the opposition have possession is what really counts.

I also have to say that this whole business of "touch-pause-engage" with scrums is ludicrous. And I’m willing to bet that it won't last much longer.

Anyway, enough of technicalities, my point that I am finding this "defensive" rugby more and more boring. I cannot accept any game plan based on hoping that the opposition will make a mistake.

Rugby has become a game that is predictable in just about every sense but the result.

My father had a simple coaching philosophy. The big guys got possession to give the ball to the small fast guys, lying deep enough to build up a head of speed, who passed it along to the fastest who put it down behind the posts. My father would drop a player from the team if he kicked the ball, outside of his own 25. A simple system that saw the old man win in excess of 80% of his games.

Am, I alone in finding that my passion for rugby is waning?

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  • mark.haupt.31 - 2012-09-24 07:55

    Hi Chris, no you're not alone in that the way we play the game today is absolutely pathetic, one-dimensional and as boring as can be. I've always been a fervent Boks supporter, since the '60's, but if this "game plan" is going to continue then I'll just stop watching as it's more irritating than entertaining and ugly to boot. Maybe the Lions should be given Bok shirts for Saturday's game, at least theirs is an entertaining game and they can score tries, and they have a flyhalf with a brain.

      antsho - 2012-09-24 20:22

      Mark, you are spot-on mate! I can't and won't even attempt to repeat your point!

  • scottdavies123 - 2012-09-24 09:39

    Absolutely! I recently had a chance to watch a game showing the highlights of games from years gone by. Granted it was obviously highlights but what struck me was how much running and passing took place. It was so exciting to watch - a true display of athleticism. I used to watch EVERY Bok game. That is no longer the case by a long shot. I usually end up feeling so frustrated and/or annoyed at the end of a game that I am grumpy for half the day! That's not my idea of enjoyment.

  • derek.edwards.75491 - 2012-09-24 09:49

    Chris you are so right. If you want to watch good exciting rugby go watch the u15 school boys where the constant use of "pods" has not quite Court on yet. My boy has just started U16 training(i'm in the northern hemisphere) I was shocked to see them learning pods and the fly half been taught some tactical kicking which was used in yesterdays match!!! They lost

  • simon.shee - 2012-09-24 10:06

    Chris, I agree with you 100%. Rugby is so boring now that it drives me nuts. I loathe the scrums with the tedious crouch, touch and engage. Lets get back to running rugby before rugby union turns into rugby league.

  • anton.louw - 2012-09-24 10:31

    Chris - try and play the game plan you mentioned and see how often your team will get their asses handed to them then...

      bergie.sean - 2012-09-24 16:22

      Hello? All Blacks anybody? haven't seen their asses on a plate for a while. . .

  • Bazzpete - 2012-09-24 10:40

    There were days when I could sit and watch 5 games of rugby in a row, from Saturday morning in NZ through to 9pm SA time and sometimes past that with Northern Hemisphere games. Now I can barely sit through 1 half of rugby without getting bored out of my mind. People say that it has become like rugby league but that is an insult to league (I have played both forms of the game). League has skills that union does not and if you don't use the ball after a certain number of possessions, the ball is turned over or kicked in a manner to try obtain possession back. The rolling mall is dead boring and along with "pods" is making union a boring game of chess without the cerebral requirements.

  • leon.lemaitre.9 - 2012-09-24 10:48

    Chris, I agree to an extent. There are, however, two exceptions, I believe - the Sharks and especially the Lions - see Saturday's game. The Lions play innovative and unpredictive rugby and manage to score a large number of tries throgh the backs.

  • dylan.mugabe - 2012-09-24 11:11

    There is to much pressure on losing. If the team loses, they are literally lynched. Its OUR fault. If we take the pressure off, the coaches will develop more a more open play style. SA Rugby fans. You would be hard pressed to find a more fickle and unforgiving bunch.

  • scott.kirby.752 - 2012-09-24 13:06

    You clearly haven't been watching the CC games this past weekend, there was some fantastic rugby on show. Or whenever NZ, Argentina, France, Ireland or Italy play. Only seems to be the Boks and at times Aus who fit the style of rugby you're talking about.

  • john.baptista.505 - 2012-09-24 13:25

    YES! Great post Chris. I can only try to add. The problem is SANZAR. This terrible Super competition, week in and out the same touch pause engage, Drive, kick, drivel. By the end of the competition, all players are semi crocked, tired, disinterested etc. And then onto the Main course for us... Yes folks, more of the same, but now with Argentina introduced. (Thank goodness - something interesting). Here is a thought: STUFF AUS/NZ. They are the ones that benefit from this junk more than we do. Have a look at the supporter counts. Commit 3 sides to Superwhatever (Include the Spears to shut Cheecky and Lukie up). Take 3 Sides and do a deal with Heineken CUP / EU. We are in a similar timezone after all. Oh yes, and focus on Varsity and Currie cup. Those are actually much better spectator value. And can we please tour again. 4 Tests. In NZ. Just us. Or 3. In France. No Cups. No fly-in fly out "it was really physical out there and all credit must go to them" boring non-sense. And finally, let's not over PC coach our captains, and "Analysts" (Thank you Nick Mallet) Tell it like it is.

  • jeremy002 - 2012-09-24 13:55

    You are most definitely not alone. I agree with every point you made. Crouch (go make a cup of tea), touch (go check your facebook, yawn), pause (sign a few autographs), and finally......engage. On a visit to the Cape this weekend I had a conversation with a person who said that they find it difficult to get exited during a rugby match these days. This got me thinking, and I realised that person was right. I only get 'exited', like yourself, in the worst sense of the word. I get frustrated and annoyed. If I carry on watching after the initial frustration and annoyance, I come to the same conclusion: it's boring. The last time I got so bored was when I watched a game where they use the round ball (football I think they call it?). I remember reading a comment by someone else on this web site where that person said "I'm rugbied-out". Easy to understand why.

  • gordon.turner.37 - 2012-09-24 14:53

    Every game looks the one you just watched for 2 reasons. 1. There is just too much on. We used to watch 1 game a weekend plus some schools or clubs. 2. Players are so big, strong and fast that the field is simply too small and defenses too good. With 110kg centers that run like the wind, there isn't the space there once was to run around players. My suggestion, take one wing and a flank off the field and you will get a far more open game of rugby where running is rewarded,

  • Rewarded on Merit - 2012-09-24 15:41

    The Aussies worked out how boring rugby is a longtime ago and hence why AFL is so well supported. Action packed, skilful and fun to watch and I am an avid rugby supporter.

  • dick.muller - 2012-09-24 18:09

    Not waning Chris. Not waning.. Waned fully quite some time ago. Watching the national team play is like watching paint dry. Wish they would stop calling them "Springboks"...

  • zaatheist - 2012-09-24 18:31

    Agreed. It is so boring I never watch rugby any more and have even lost interest in hearing the results.

  • warwick.bristow - 2012-09-24 19:55

    I just cannot fathom how giving possession away with endless kicking helps you put points on the board. All that does is sharpen your defensive skills.

  • aiazmir - 2012-09-24 19:58

    I have followed rugby all my life, I began playing the game in 1955 when the Lions toured here. I loved playing the game and loved watching the game. The late Kitch Christie and I were friends and spent many hours discussing the game. He lamented the way the game was being played and so did I. In modern rugby I agree with you that the whole thing is very boring. Rugby could be a far greater spectacle and form of entertainment than it is now. Backline players seem to have forgotten about change of pace and direction, and timing of passes. Why don't they just pick 15 forwards and watch them slug it out?

      gordon.turner.37 - 2012-09-24 21:35

      They effectively have. 30 years ago a tight head was 95kg and 75kg was an average back. Coaches appreciate this and are forced to play pick and drive, slow choking rugby unless they find themselves in a miss match of size or talent, which is rare. I would love to seen them trial a 14 man game. One player give you 10m of width to work with.

  • leon.scheepers.58 - 2012-09-24 20:06 omitted an important issue in the back line (I'm speaking as a former wing - club rugby, 1st league). Centers are there to draw in the opposition and must only pass when they've done so. Our back-lines pass the ball but it often results in a hospital pass because defenders have not been drawn in to make space for the players outside. Centers who do this make their wings look good :) On a more personal note... My father was also a rugby coach, for Cambridge High (EL) in the 60's & 70's. This period is known as their glory years in rugby.

      gordon.turner.37 - 2012-09-24 21:36

      The game is completely different. 5 times faster, far stricter at the ruck, far better coach is defensive structures.

  • geoff.stroebel - 2012-09-24 22:32

    Yes Sir. Who invented the idea of running the ball back into the mess instead of sending it down the line? It's HE who should be shot.

  • dewalds3 - 2012-09-25 10:30

    I overlistened a conversation yesterday by two ex-referees. They say that the complicated rules plus interpretation makes it possible for the referee to determine the outcome of almost any game - in their time it was not possible, the rules were simpler and not so open to interpretation.

  • mmansfeld - 2012-09-25 11:10

    I played 10 years first class rugby and also for then S.W>A> and we were know for hard forwards But if I as a tight forward was found in the backline my Coach would have alot to say also that was in the years 1960 to1974 therefore players like Matfield and Becker leave me cold. manfred

  • juannepierre - 2012-09-26 07:03

    No Chris, it's taking a step up the cerebral ladder, that notch up where you finally learn that there is more to life than a game. More to a Saturday than a game.more to a weekend than a stupid game. Welcome.

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