Regular readers are probably sick to death of me banging on about the same single issue in print, when interviewed, and when commentating. But this single issue is slowly killing the game at the top level, preventing it from flowing and pulling the entire front row into the firing line.
No one wants to go a game of rugby and see endless breaks in play, which is why the IRB must intervene in order to keep the sport we love a game for all shapes, sizes and abilities. I have therefore used this forum as an open letter to the IRB, outlining a number of ways the laws can be changed in order to improve the scourge of the modern game: the pass.
1) Get rid of “the zip”
Players passing in the modern day are currently focusing on “the zip”. This sees one player pass as quickly and flatly to another as possible in order to gain a competitive advantage in the play that follows. Clearly the speed of the ball travelling decreases the likelihood of another player, in particular the front row forward, being able to catch it. Everyone bar the most discombobulatingly stupid should see the advantage of slowing passes down to catchable speeds.
2) Sequential passing
It is proven that the success rate of the passes to forwards decreases the further the ball has to travel. Therefore everyone bar the nationalistic and myopic should see that sequential passing is the way to improve the completion rate and keep the game flowing.
For those unsure of how such an act could work, here is a brief explanation. When a player intends to pass, he or she must walk to another player and extend their arms with the ball in hand. The intended recipient then securely places his or her hands on the ball before the original carrier can release it.
Advances in modern ball technology have seen skin-tight man-made materials used in the ball instead of the old baggy pig’s bladder we used in the amateur days. Props cannot get a grip legally, which leads to them bringing the ball to the ground and re-start after re-start. As such, I recommend an overhaul of the shape and surface of the ball to allow the ball to be successfully passed between forwards. I have included a preliminary sketch below:
4) Education of referees
There is an expectation among elite-level referees that passes to front row forwards will be caught and that anyone not doing so should be penalised. Clearly no self-respecting front-rower would intentionally not catch a ball. Referees should therefore be selected from sympathetic ex-front rowers who realise the intricacies of catching while overweight and gasping for air.
Don’t deprive the world of this magnificent spectacle IRB. Act now before someone puts him on a calorie-controlled diet.
RoS’ whereabouts are currently unknown, honest Brian.