A few things stood out for me in last
weekend’s deluge of Super Rugby:
The return of the Sharks scrum. Perhaps
forced to set a little higher given how wet the Kings Park field was, Jannie du
Plessis scrummed really well, while Dale Chadwick was monumental in taming two
seriously competent Lions tighthead props.
In turn, the demise of the Lions scrum.
Denied the ability to set really low and scrum as an 8 in the wet, a pack that
has dominated most scrums they have played against, was forced into playing
second fiddle. And without this potent weapon in their armoury, the men from
Joburg looked even more blunt than they did in week one of the tournament.
The New Zealanders ability to make 3 passes
in the 5 metres between tram line and touchline, compared to the inability of
some South African sides to make 3 passes before the tramline.
The fantastic performances from Jesse Kriel
and Handre Pollard in a losing Bulls cause. They are the reason I see the
Pretoria glass of beer as half full rather than half empty. Also - 1 centimetre
less of touchline whitewash and the Bulls would be 1 from 2 instead of 0 from 2.
Sponsor activations like the tranche of
singing school kids waving yellow and red flags at Newlands and the monster USN
branding in Bloemfontein are aimed at taking up the masses of empty seats we
are now seeing at stadia every weekend. So instead of addressing the empty
seats issue, franchises are giving even more power to the TV folk.
And perhaps the most pertinent: The red
card issued to Hayden Triggs for punching Duane Vermeulen. That Triggs deserved
red is not up for debate, but whether the game can afford 15 v 14 mismatches
is. And for those Cape Town folk still enjoying the rosy glow from Saturday’s
win, think back to when Bismarck du Plessis was wrongfully sent from the field
against the All Blacks.
Rugby is a team game, so I like the fact
that a red card punishes not only the miscreant individual, but also the team.
One for all, and all for one sort of thing. But given that some red card
offences go unpunished during a game (see Owen Franks and Kane Hames just this
weekend), some are wrongfully handed out (see Bismarck) and that it ruins the
game as a spectacle (something both fans, and perhaps more importantly,
sponsors looking for a return on their investment, do not deserve), perhaps the
handling of a red card needs a revisit?
A few options to consider: The guilty
player is subbed and the game carries on as a 15 v 15 man affair. The guilty
player is sent from the field for 20 minutes, then subbed and the game carries
on as a 15 v 15 man affair. The guilty player is subbed and the opposition get
to choose another player that also has to be subbed, and game carries on as a
15 v 15 man affair.
I quite like the latter (as suggested to me
on Twitter), but I also think we should consider something even more grievous
to the team as a whole. How about one of the above 3 options so the game
continues as a 15 v 15 man affair, but the side suffering the red card –
subject to it being ratified by post-match a judicial enquiry - also gets
docked 2 log points no matter the result? That way the team and union also get
punished for the individual’s offence.
Extreme, yes, but given that the team
suffering the current punishment of having a player sent from the field are
going to lose the game 9 times out of 10, and thus miss out on a potential 4 or
5 log points, perhaps it is not that extreme?
It also makes the red card in the 1st
minute of the game more equitable with the red card handed out in the 78th
minute. Something that is not currently the case.
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.
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