Guten abend, fellow G&GRs. Well, we’ve reached the finale of the season. There’ll be no more news articles until at least mid-January! Service will resume as normal closer to the start of the Super season in early February, though the odd article may drop in the interim if one of us Craparazzi is feeling bored, or in the doghouse with the missus… 😬
Today’s news come from the
Inbred Apple Isle and the desk of KB. While I still have your attention, thank you to KB, AllyOz, Moaning Expat, ParForCourse, MackHath (hope I didn’t miss anyone) and all you commenters, frequent or otherwise, for contributing in the post-season for G&GR. It’s been a bloody ripper few weeks with some quality stuff. Careful though or you’ll cop a “Kurtley Beale on for debut after Drew Mitchell’s “injury”” tap on the shoulder.
In light of the season being silly, the Craparazzi put together a little song for you all, dunno who this Straight No Chaser group is….
MORE RAVINGS FROM THE APPLE ISLE
I was inspired reading AlleyOz’s magnificent piece last Thursday to revisit a very brief comment I made about our game a few months back. I played in the 70s and 80s, our club was always well served by some fantastic coaches and our training sessions were structured on very similar lines to those described by AO. Even with the relatively lightweight pack we had, a focus on technique and superior fitness saw us through to wins on more than one occasion. It was also definitely games within games. The forwards had the own battles at scrum, lineout, ruck and maul. These contact areas bore no resemblance to their modern-day counterparts which, in my opinion, are a dog’s breakfast by comparison. The backs were allowed to play unencumbered by lumbering forwards getting in their way. It was a genuine contest between attack and defence. They had their own moves off set play but mostly played heads up, off the cuff rugby. The game flowed.
Since those heady days, my oh my, how the game has changed. A gradual process inevitably leading to professionalism but has it been a change for the better? Certainly, there’ve been benefits not least in providing financial security for the player but at what cost? Instead of teams and players with identity and character we have a game that is fast becoming homogenous.
Sadly, I feel that life is being strangled out of our game. Leaving aside the issue of officiating, overuse of the TMOs, water breaks etc., I’m finding games becoming increasingly difficult to watch hence the title of this piece.
I recall, a good few years back now, watching a game between the Brumbies and the Sharks in Canberra. They were 1 and 2 on the ladder and at the time were lauded for their running game. Both teams were so afraid to lose the match, which should have been a classic, but turned into a game of aerial ping pong. By the end of the game the stats showed that both teams had kicked over 40 times each. The final score, who cares it was batshit boring. A trend had been set. Teams are becoming so afraid of losing that their first priority is to defend. Their best means of attack is to kick in the hope of applying pressure and force an error. Attack the best form of defence, no chance.
Now I know we’ve all had these moments when you’re watching your favourite team on TV and you feel so frustrated that you feel like picking up the cat, dog or convenient heavy object (but not your beer stein) and just hurling it at the screen with suitable expletives. So, let’s just look at a few areas of play that make me want to participate in said object hurling.
As usual it starts up front with the scrum. Let’s start by putting the bloody ball in straight not at the second row’s feet. As Nutta will willingly testify, front rows will always be front rows. As masters of the dark arts they confuse the onlooker (namely the referee) as to who is actually attempting to milk that penalty. My very simple solution: if they want to act like children being responsible for reset after reset by their antics then treat them as such by sending both front rows for a spell on the naughty bench, after all there are 6 of them, and bring on a new set.
As has oft been said on these hallowed pages the breakdown is a joke with both sides offending with impunity. The attempted crackdown that sort of started a few seasons back has turned to water. Come on referees, injudicious use of the cheese would sort this out. Officiate to the letter of the law as a New Year’s resolution.
The maul, which used to be a genuine contest for possession is rarely seen, replaced by a moving slug which can only be stopped illegally. A 20m trundle may float some boats but not mine. What can be done to prevent this eyesore?
As an ex-lock of tender years, the lineout was great fun. Jumping with the outside arm while elbowing your opposite number was a given, along with other shenanigans. All that changed with lifting being legalised. We now have a dance with players moving backwards and forwards waving their arms. FFS stop it. It has reached its nadir with the non-contested line out with defending forwards setting up to prevent the driving slug and the attacking pack moving to set up said slug before the ball has left the hooker’s hands; double banking not us, sir.
And as for the caterpillar, ban the fuqer.
On to the backs, we’ll they’re surplus to requirements. Gone are the days of the saying forwards win the match and backs determine by how much. The driving line out maul 5m out is the go to with try scoring hookers! However, I digress. I long for the day when we see a genuine contest between opposing backlines. Now we’re stuck with a defence line of backs and forwards strung out across the pitch like oversized sausages waiting for the arrival of pods of players intent on inflicting GBH on the opposition. On the rare occasion the backs do get space there’s inevitably a couple of their teammates in front of the passer and receiver creating an obstruction, penalty sir, no chance. The height of ingenuity now seems to be the crossfield kick to a 6ft 5” winger against a vertically challenged opponent. Mind you this mind-blowing tactic is usually on the back of a penalty so it’s worth a literal punt, cynic, moi?
I had intended to title this piece Back to the Future but I know that going back to the good old days will never happen. Our game has moved on but at the moment I’m afraid that we are currently stuck with a stodgy mess both on and off the field. It’s not just here but happening worldwide. We must look ahead and with this in mind my fellow G&GRians think carefully between drinks and come up with 3 suggestions on how the game could be improved, without making major law changes. Doing away with scrum halves, weird hairstyles and the Tahs doesn’t count.
PS. In spite of my negativity rugby is the only ball sport I’ve played and the only ball sport I’ve watched and will continue as such until I’m stuck in a pine box and burnt. I hope the other place has STAN.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER DOWN MEXICO WAY
So the fixtures for the Super Round at AAMI from 3-5 March are out and tickets are on sale. Some good deals to be had apparently. Just to recap:
Fri 3 March – Crusader v Highlanders followed by Rebels v Hurricanes
Sat 4 March – Moana Pasifica v Chiefs followed by Fijian Drua v Tahs
Sun 5 March – Blues v Brumbies followed by Force v Reds
A great long weekends entertainment beckons. I have it on good authority from Charlie that there are loads of place for pre-match drinking and dining. I sampled one such venue in his company in Docklands that was pretty good. So my fellow G&GRians have a think and if you can make the trip down south, if only for one evening, for boys and girls on tour.
KB’s G&GR TEAM
So with that in mind and rising like a phoenix from the ashes of an article I penned back in October, no tour would be complete without its tour programme. I’ve put together my own pen portraits of fellow G&GRians I’ve met and whose company and free drinks I have enjoyed and added a few more names for those who expressed an interest in joining this august body back in October. Some details are missing, and a new name added following his elevation to the ranks of the G&GR Craparazzi, that’s you Moaning Expat.
Nutta (1) – with a name like that could only be a prop. Blotted his copybook by taking up the dark art of refereeing. A poacher turned gamekeeper who faces expulsion from the front row union and a large fine paid to squad members in the form of alcohol. New to the art of reffing he must get out of the habit of exacting personal retribution on offenders. Come on man, it’s what the whistle and those coloured bits of paper in your pocket are for.
Moaning Expat (2) – nominated by me.
Brisneyland Local (4) – A large man who gains speed by coming in off a long run up. Difficult to stop once he gets up a head of steam.
The Mayor (aka Butz) my article my rules (5) 1.96m of prime English beef. Once a lithe, all action athlete now an Acropolis only fit for a pot roast. Famed for having short arms but extremely long pockets when it comes to getting a round in by my fellow G&GR writers. It’s a lie I tell you and have the photographic evidence to prove it. Claim to fame, mooning a coach load of French lady students on the way to Paris for the final of their club championship back in the 80s. Unfortunately, the ladies did not reciprocate.
AllyOz (6) – 6’5” in his RM Cuban heels. Started life in the other game where he was once described in the local press as “doing his best work in tight play” which would have been a compliment if he had been playing rugby but in league parlance meant “will truck it up the middle and will tackle you if you run straight at him”. Any resemblance between AO and that former great league player and code changer Sam Burgess is purely coincidental.
KARL (7) – what more can I say. From the Land of the Long White Cloud and to add insult to injury another bloody referee. The poor man’s Sir Rutchie, well trained in entering from the side. Admitted to G&GR solely on the grounds of cultural diversity.
Hoss (8) – a true wordsmith, Shakespeare, Tolstoy and George Martin rolled into one and to see him in the flesh you’ll understand why. Used to cut a dashing figure but has now gone to seed.
Yowie (9) – Mr Versatility personified. Insists he started life as an 8 but all that changed when he learned to walk. Still fancies himself as a dynamic back rower but at 1.8m and 50kg wet was laughed out of court. Offered to revert to 6 but unwilling to accept a few weeks on the rack and a strict diet of pies. Just needs to grow a hairy slug over his top lip, work on his communication skills and the 9 position is his. It’s that or water boy. Other claim to fame: body double for Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise (he kept the suit) but only from the waist up.
Missing Link (10)
Dally M (11) – has a namesake famous in both codes. Claims to have never made a bad pass, missed a tackle or dropped the ball in A grade rugby which is hardly surprising since he’s never played there.
Charlie McKay (15) – an alleged running full back. Who is he kidding? One look at him and he has hooker written all over him. Throws the ball in better than Folau Fainga’a and a touch kick that makes Spanners look like Dan Carter. And bugger me another bloody referee. At least we have defence, prosecution and judge sorted for the players’ court. One of four brothers who when dad is added could be identical quins. If you’re looking for a squat, powerful but hairless front 5 they are it. Good drinking company.
Subs: name yourselves!
Team Coach – Dr Evil rejected by the Soap Dodgers and jumped at our offer of a pub parma and a schooner of XXXX. The job is his but will be subject to a performance review.
Waterboy and video consultant – Rassie Erasmus. Enough said.
Team Masseuse and Sports Psychologist – The Mayoress – accepted the job under sufferance stating “it would be great if you were all young, fit and ripped”, however is prepared to accept large quantities of gin and a blindfold in recompense.
So come on and join the party. The team is missing a few players and a bench of replacements/finishers!