15 Feb

Things that go Bump in the Night
by Tracey Nelson
15 Feb 2007

It’s hard to believe that the World Cup Stadium debacle is still churning on, but late Monday night I saw the report on TV3 breaking the story that the boofheads who supposedly run the country from Wellington are now considering ‘temporary seating’ at Eden Park to meet the 60 000 seat capacity requirement for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final. The mayor of our largest city also appears to support this cheaper upgrade, even though it is likely to raise the definite prospect of the IRB not considering Eden Park to be the world class stadium they were originally promised in the NZRU’s bid to host the event. The irony of this has not been lost on Mainlanders, as apparently Jade Stadium was not considered as an alternative Final venue due to Christchurch having ‘infrastructure issues’ and ‘the Jade Stadium revamp would require temporary seating which would not meet IRB requirements’. Need I say more?

Speaking of things in the night, Eddie Jones came out with some interesting comments on Saturday evening after his Reds’ loss to the Crusaders. Eddie wasn’t happy with South African referee Mark Lawrence’s control of the scrums, stating “I’ve got a scrum that goes forward and it gets penalised. I don’t know what’s going on. The whole thing about the scrum – it’s supposed to aid the strongest team. We had a stronger scrum and we were penalised for it.” Well Eddie, you’re right – you don’t know what’s going on. When I went back over the tape of the game there were 10 scrums in total (a relatively low number in today’s modern game), and in only one of those scrums did the Reds get any go-forward. The rest of the game, despite getting a fairly good first hit on, they were back-pedalling and their tighthead prop was being popped. Hardly the stuff of the strongest scrum.

Like Robbie Deans and his team, I am reasonably happy with the way the new scrum laws are working in the Super 14. We’ve certainly seen less collapsed scrums and resets, all of which have taken up large amounts of time in the past, leaving the viewers yawning and looking around for something else to watch. Some referees have got the hang of the ‘Crouch-Touch-Pause-Engage’ calls better than others, because a degree of rhythm and timing is required for the two packs to hit simultaneously, but overall it seems to be slowly but surely starting to work. And anyone who had concerns about the shortened distance between the two front rows de-powering the scrums should watch a bit more closely. Having seen how the Crusaders’ pack minus their All Blacks have managed so far, I have no doubts that the 2007 All Black scrum will remain the potent weapon it was in 2006.

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