Vodacom Super 14

SA loosies 'cheat' - Waugh

2010-02-01 09:00
Phil Waugh (File)
Sydney - Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh has fired the first barb at rival South African teams ahead of next week's start of the Super 14 season, labelling their breakdown technique as illegal "man-handling".

Waugh said SANZAR's crackdown on breakdown infringements for the new season would bring the top South African sides back to the pack.

''I think maybe South Africa will find it hardest," the 79-Test veteran said of the new interpretations announced by SANZAR last week.

"The South Africans tend to lie around and do a bit of manhandling of the tackled player on the ground, so having to roll away all the time could maybe disadvantage them more so than other sides. I think the decision to make the breakdown more of a contest is great for the game and for the players - it will reward good technique. I think the players who are smart will get an advantage from it.

''I think the South Africans will still adjust but players lying around in that tackle area will be forced to get out of that area, which will certainly advantage teams who are willing to play with the ball."

Playing the ball is high on every Australian franchise's agenda in 2010 after a meeting with the ARU late last year highlighted the importance of returning to an entertaining, running style of rugby. And while Brumbies and fellow Wallabies breakaway George Smith said the new law interpretations would not change his side's attacking focus, he admitted it would make their task easier.

"It allows the ball-carrier to actually place the ball back, so it gives the attacking team a bit more time to play with the ball, with a bit more security there," he said. ''It makes you more aware of your technique and more aware of your reaction to get back on your feet and allow the ball-carrier as little time as possible to get the ball away, but at the same time making sure you adhere to the law.

''My game won't change dramatically, I'll just be more aware of what the situation at the breakdown."

Both players agreed the move would make for a more entertaining and satisfying spectacle. As did Australian rugby's referees coach, Andrew Cole.

''The referees have been instructed to be particularly hard on any tackler who's trying to slow down the ball - whether he's clearing to his feet or simply lying there, he must clearly get away from the ball, release and get to his feet before he plays at the ball,'' Cole said. ''If not, it's a penalty situation.

''The genesis of it was that in the post-Super 14 review in August last year there was a coach and referee representative from each of the three countries … and the feeling from the coaches was that the breakdown was an issue and that the ball was being slowed down illegally. We wanted to not favour one team or another, but just to shift the focus so it was more even and therefore in doing that reward the attacking team if they were able to hold onto the ball.''

Waugh said he relished the opportunity to challenge himself even further at the breakdown and help spark some creative play for his Waratahs outfit, which was heavily criticised for its lack of try-scoring flair in 2009.

''It certainly frees it up for the broken side attack," Waugh said.

''With the focus being on cleaning up the defensive infringements, it's going to be to the attacking team's advantage and you should see more teams willing to attack rather than kick away possession."


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