Consistent policing of the breakdown by referees would make
for a more enjoyable tournament. Photo Getty
With the 2013 Super 15 season fast approaching it's hard
not to get excited at the prospect of another year of top-class
If the 2012 season was anything to go by, it will be another
year of entertaining rugby, which can't be anything but good.
But amongst all this, there were just a few dampers on last
year's competition. To try to clean up these issues, here are
five things ODT rugby contributor Jeff Cheshire
doesn't want to see in 2013.
Inconsistencies policing breakdown
This one is infuriating for players, coaches and fans alike.
The breakdown is a complex area of the game as it is, but the
way it is policed at times makes it near impossible to know
what is legal in the eyes of the referee.
Of course there are always going to be things missed, that's
inevitable. But what made the breakdown so frustrating last
year was the number of obvious offences missed, particularly
when you look at the number of obscure offences penalised. It
became ridiculous how often this was happening, and it
Imagine how the players must feel. Not knowing when they have
rights and when they don't, effectively having to take a
gamble on when they contest for the ball. Coaches too must
find it near impossible to work a game plan around, with
interpretations changing on a weekly, sometimes more
For everyone else, it makes for a hard watch. It can kill the
fun of supporting your team if you know the result is going
to come down to a few lucky calls here and there.
Admittedly this one has improved over the past few months
with the inception of the new scrum calls. But these calls
have yet to be used in Super Rugby and until they have proven
themselves over time, the problem will remain by no means
Dane Coles (C) of the Hurricanes looks up in a practice
scrum during a pre-season match against the Crusaders in
Timaru earlier this month. Photo Getty
How often did we see a scrum set three, four even five
times last year? There were times when five minutes would run
off the clock without any action happening. Ridiculous and
rather boring unless you're a front row tragic whose thrills
come from seeing the men in the low numbers do battle at scrum
There's been much debate on how to fix the problem. The
change in calls was possibly the best suggestion and may be
the answer, depending on how fast the referee delivers them.
Others suggested stopping the clock, which solves the problem
of game time being chewed up, but does little to make for a
more exciting and fast-paced game.
My suggestion is to give the front rowers old-style jerseys
to wear - the ones that were worn by players up until the
last ten years or so.
These new jerseys were developed with the intention of making
them harder to grab for defenders, but when you have two
900kg packs smashing into each other, the props need
something that is easy to bind on to in a split-second, not
something that is hard to get hold of.
This became a theme during the 2012 season. The whole idea of
being able to go upstairs and look at the television footage
is to make sure the right decision is made, even if it takes
a few minutes.
Yet last year they still managed to get it wrong enough times
to make it concerning.
Zac Guildford has already diverted attention from the
on-field action this season.
Sure, it's easy to make the decision when you're watching
the game at home or in the crowd, with nothing riding on
whether you were wrong or right.
But really, these guys are professionals; they are paid to
make the right decisions. With the benefit of super-slow
motion replays and multiple angles, the right decision should
be made 99 times out of 100.
In some sports what is happening off the field seems to be
more important than what is happening on it. That's all well
and good, but not in rugby. Well not to the same extent
Last year we saw all the drama surrounding the career options
of Sonny Bill Williams, and what was going on behind the
scenes at the Blues camp. And this year we have already been
subjected to the latest incident in the Zac Guildford saga.
It's all interesting, in moderation, but when it starts
interfering with the rugby, it gets to be too much.
For 2013 let's hope the rugby remains the primary focus.
A team ravaged by injuries
The Highlanders have struggled with injuries to players in
recent years and this season have already lost Tamati
Coming from a Highlanders perspective, this one rings so
true. The past two seasons have been somewhat ruined by seeing
many of the best players sidelined mid-season after such
promising starts to the season.
Every team has injuries, but there is no doubt the
Highlanders have been more unlucky than most, at times being
down to their third- or fourth-string players in certain
positions. Having lost Tamati Ellison already, 2013 hasn't
exactly gotten off to the best start, particularly with a
handful of others still on the comeback.
But if there is anything we would like to see this year, it
would be a fully fit Highlanders team playing in the crunch
stages of the competition.