Tri-Na­tions ri­vals be­moan kick­ing game

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SYD­NEY: Aus­tralia and New Zealand have joined forces in at­tack­ing the in­creas­ing re­liance on kick­ing in in­ter­na­tional rugby.

New Zealand coach Gra­ham Henry said the game had be­come a “poor prod­uct” while his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Rob­bie Deans said kick­ing had taken over as the sin­gle de­cid­ing fac­tor in ma­jor matches.

“Par­tic­u­larly when you’ve got a side like South Africa who are so able to play the game that way,” Deans said ahead of to­day’s Tri-Na­tions match be­tween New Zealand and Aus­tralia here.

“They es­sen­tially won the World Cup in 2007 without play­ing.”

Henry said he wants the sport’s law­mak­ers to in­ves­ti­gate ways of chang­ing the laws to en­cour­age teams to run the ball in­stead of al­ways kick­ing it.

“The prod­uct you’re looking at needs some at­ten­tion, quite frankly,” Henry said.

Ex­po­nents of the riskier run­ning game be­lieve the bal­ance has re­cently tipped too far in favour of the kick­ing game af­ter Eng­land (2003) then South Africa (2007) won the last two World Cups with ‘con­ser­va­tive’ rugby.

But Henry said a for­mula was needed to en­sure both styles of rugby re­mained ef­fec­tive and run­ning rugby did not have to be re­placed by a sim­pler, safety-first game­plan.

“I think you can do both. We’ve done both in the past and I can’t see why we can’t do both in the fu­ture,” Henry said.

“We need to think out­side the square about how we can change the game so it’s more en­joy­able to play and bet­ter to watch.”

All Blacks skip­per Richie McCaw said he had no prob­lems with teams ex­ploit­ing the rules to en­sure they won.

How­ever, he said he also ex­pected New Zealand and Aus­tralia to re­vert to their tra­di­tional run­ning game at the Olympic sta­dium to­day.

“Usu­ally the Aus­tralia-All Blacks fix­tures are pretty en­ter­tain­ing,” McCaw said. “Both teams will be keen to make sure it’s a game where there’s plenty of quick ball and there’s no ex­cuse for not hav­ing an en­ter­tain­ing spec­ta­cle.” – Reuters

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