Foley wary of SA teams

2009-01-12 08:26
Wary (File)
Sydney - Waratahs forward coach Michael Foley believes the South African Super 14 sides will show they have discarded their reluctance to embrace the new experimental law variations by playing more expansively this year.

Foley, who has joined the Waratahs full-time from the Wallabies, has based his forecast on the style of game that was played by the Springboks last year - the first year in which the ELVs were played at international level.

"People will adapt better to the laws … particularly the South African teams." he said. "Their Test team tried to play more expansively than what you would traditionally see. That will reflect down into their (Super 14) sides."

While the ELVs are an initiative of the International Rugby Board and have been on trial at various levels of the game, they have met with opposition from many of the northern hemisphere nations that hold the IRB powerbase.

Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, now at English club Saracens, was the latest to criticise the laws this week, saying they were too difficult to referee after his side lost 22-16 to Gloucester in the Guinness Championship.

"The (IRB) have made the laws so difficult to referee, the game is immeasurably worse than 12 months ago," he said. "The referees have not got worse. Neither have the players. So what's the one missing? The ELVs."

Asked about the remarks, Foley said: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and Eddie is good for an opinion."

Foley said many people didn't realise that while the ELVs were aimed at promoting a faster, more entertaining, running game, they still allowed teams to play a traditional tighter game if they wished.

"Teams will try and play that way (faster). The ELVs open up opportunities the old laws didn't," he said.

"But the ELVs don't compel you to play that way. The smarter sides last year at Test level used the laws in both ways. (There was) the more traditional way. When the opportunity was there to have a lineout that they felt would advantage them, they took it. Then you saw the ELVs played in a true sense of (playing) more expansively.

"What we are seeing is a lot more possession come from unstructured sources, and that means running is very, very important. Particularly the South African teams, I believe, will have jumped on to that in the off-season. There are windows that have been opened that probably weren't there before. The laws encourage you to try those things. But you can still play a traditional style of game, and that was seen in a number of Tests last year."

Foley cited the Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland last season, saying: "New Zealand kicked a lot of the ball with a large number of lineouts in that game, which was much larger than most other Tests in the year.

"People equate ELVs with (a belief that) you can't play a tight game or traditional style of game, but you can."


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