How Australian rugby can build its very own field of dreams

I was lucky enough the other day to have a quiet afternoon off and I switched on to Stan and found a remastered version of the old classic and fantastic movie Field of Dreams. It’s Kevin Costner at his best before the embarrassments of Waterworld or The Postman. It’s a simple story. A guy starts […]

How Australian rugby can build its very own field of dreams

I was lucky enough the other day to have a quiet afternoon off and I switched on to Stan and found a remastered version of the old classic and fantastic movie Field of Dreams.

It’s Kevin Costner at his best before the embarrassments of Waterworld or The Postman.

It’s a simple story. A guy starts hearing voices and seeing visions in his corn field of a baseball field.

The voice tells him: “If you build it, they will come”.

For those who have watched it, you know the ending, for those who haven’t given it a go, it’s a great story with an uplifting ending.

It made me think of the state of Australian rugby.

We have something missing. The movie is about missed chances for the players and the ability to experience what they have missed.

The question you ask is how does this fit into Australian rugby?

Simply, there is a missing piece. Something that will bring the players back. Something that will allow them to enjoy the game they love in the right place.

The irony is we had it and let it go due to politics. With the discussion of private equity we now have the chance to plow the cornfield and build something that will bring the players back and then the fans will follow.

It’s called the NPC. There is eight teams to start, backed by private equity, controlled by Rugby Australia. There are no state interests and no club interests.

(Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

1. Brisbane City
2. Queensland Country
3. Western Sydney (an Islander-based team that moves west)
4. Sydney City
5. NSW Country (based out of Newcastle but travels north)
6. ACT
7. Melbourne
8. Perth

Eight teams. Thirty players. The salaries of Super Rugby players are shared 50/50 with the Super Rugby teams. There are three marquees (ex-Wallabies), and developmental players at the Super Rugby base salary.

Play in the smaller stadiums and reach out to regional Australia.

With decent coaches and support staff, it is probably $5 million a season per team.

That is $200 million over five years. It protects the integrity of the Super teams and the integrity and independence of Rugby Australia.

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It provides the middle ground for up-and-comers and a way to come home for the experienced journeymen and internationals.

I have done a lot more detailed analysis, but you get the point.

It most importantly fills a gap and provides a product to sell to private equity, with limited investment, and potentially high return at a low risk.

And I go back to the movie. Good old Kevin mowed his field. Everyone thought he was crazy. He sowed the seeds for the grass, measured everything to a dime and the players came.

I won’t reveal the end of the movie but it’s the outcome we are all hoping for.

Source : The Roar More   

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Use it? Lose it! A simple way to fix rugby’s much-maligned maul

As South Africa was on the Wallabies five-metre line for the second time on the weekend, the commentators said, “It’s almost impossible to stop a maul, legally.” Since that possession ended with a South Africa try and a yellow card for Australia, they were right. While the Aussies did end up winning the game, it doesn’t […]

Use it? Lose it! A simple way to fix rugby’s much-maligned maul

As South Africa was on the Wallabies five-metre line for the second time on the weekend, the commentators said, “It’s almost impossible to stop a maul, legally.”

Since that possession ended with a South Africa try and a yellow card for Australia, they were right.

While the Aussies did end up winning the game, it doesn’t take away the fact that the maul has become an overpowered move.

For the past five years, teams have perfected the maul from the five-metre line (and even ten for some teams), especially South African team, who use it whenever they are in the attacking 22.

This even stretches down to their Super Rugby teams.

What makes the maul so difficult to defend is that the defence is already on the backfoot, the backline needs to make their tackles if they want to stop a try, yet getting any support from the forwards (especially the flankers in the backline) is not possible.

While the maul is skillful, the ultimate winner is who has more strength.

If the defence goes a second too early, there is going to be a penalty advantage.

The defence also can’t bring the maul down to the ground because that is also illegal, giving the offence another penalty advantage.

Finally, if a defender is in the wrong position, it’s another penalty advantage, often leading to either the team being able to try something creative, or just using that penalty to run another maul.

This cycle of penalties will lead to a yellow card for constant infringements, or a penalty try. But the only reason the defence constantly does this is because they otherwise run the risk of conceding a try.

But the real problem is the ‘use it’ system. The scrumhalf has three ‘use its’ to get rid of the ball from the maul, yet one only occurs when the maul is stagnant. This means that even after the maul has been stopped the forwards are given the opportunity to have another go at scoring.

On the second attempt they are often able to score since the defensive forwards aren’t able to regather themselves to stop a restructured maul.

At the past World Cup, 91 per cent of the time the offence won the lineout, meaning it is nearly impossible to defend.

(Photo by Getty Images)

The solution is changing the ‘use it’ rule from three to one. If the scrumhalf doesn’t pass the ball, it’s a scrum to the other team.

This encourages backline play and free-flowing rugby, rather than teams constantly having seven people in the lineouts, which will be more entertaining for the spectators and generate more interest in the sport.

It would even support teams that are able to set up a great maul. If a team is able to have a structured maul that doesn’t falter they will get all of the advantages, but teams that are sloppy will not be able to abuse the rules.

It encourages creative forward play, as teams try to find new ways to beat the system by using creative plays that we haven’t seen before.

The benefits for the defence are also clear: they only have to make one stand against the defence and can put a focus on the backline.

This change would clearly benefit the likes of the Wallabies, who let in two tries (one almost closing the game out) over the weekend, and it would hurt the Springboks, who over the past five year have made it a staple of their game. However, eventually teams will adapt and the mauls used would be better.

It would be one more step into position-less rugby, something we are eventually coming to, and therefore make the game more entertaining.

Source : The Roar More   

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