Are the guardians big­ger than the Sport?

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS -

Rugby, they said, is a game played in heaven. Will it be heaven, sort of, watch­ing Rugby in the 1st week of the lo­cal League. This is at a time when both sides of the House that talks as the Leg­is­la­ture, in­clude Rugby per­son­al­i­ties as well as Rugby en­thu­si­asts. They will be seen taking time off, the push to prove who has more num­bers, opt­ing to put their hands to­gether to cheer the bet­ter Rugby moves.

This is while the talk is about long jumpers, pole vaulters and re­verse sweep­ers en­ter­tain­ing the pub­lic at large. The game will go on. The Rugby sea­son kicked off on Fri­day and Week 1 will be over as you read this col­umn. The talk is that it will be a good sea­son.

Ev­ery­body hopes this sea­son will be bet­ter than the last, in terms of quality Rugby and more spec­ta­tor in­ter­est. Hope­fully, the lim­ited en­try of for­eign play­ers will boost the teams that lagged be­hind last year. De­spite protests by some, the for­eign play­ers have set foot on the is­land.

The point that is cir­cu­lat­ing in my mind is whether this up­com­ing sea­son will be Coach, player, Ref­eree or game cen­tered. The semi-pro­fes­sional na­ture of lo­cal Rugby has its share of con­tri­bu­tions. The preva­lent cul­ture of Rugby in Sri Lanka has been 3 dots vy­ing to be­ing cen­tered, that is the player, Coach and the Ref­eree. While cheer­ing from out­side are the smaller dots of ad­min­is­tra­tors, both do­mes­tic and na­tional. In the plac­ing of the dots, more im­por­tant is how th­ese 3 char­ac­ters can change the face of the game. The fact is that, it is the game that is im­por­tant. What will the 3 con­trib­ute over­all.

If the essence of joy in Rugby is to see play­ers run­ning with the ball, can we hon­estly say we see this hap­pen­ing. Are there moves that causes the crowds to jump from their seats and keep them on the edge of their seats. On the other hand, we see col­li­sion garbed in the name of pick and hit and even the backs go­ing into con­tact. Eva­sion, side steps, dum­mies or chip and col­lect are only in the mem­ory of some. Th­ese close play help milk penal­ties, as mauls col­lapse and, or some gib­ber­ish ac­tion is re­warded with 3 points. Most times the points that carve a win. Do­ing lit­tle to en­hance the quality of Rugby. There is de­bate in the world to re­duce the points for a penalty.

The game to go for­ward needs a nexus be­tween play­ers Coaches and Ref­er­ees. An un­der­stand­ing of the ad­min­is­tra­tors and the gover­nors is also im­por­tant to un­der­stand what the coach wants from the game. What do play­ers want from the game? How do they want the game to be played? On the other hand, what does the game ex­pect from th­ese 2 dots in the cir­cle? The Coach has his ob­jec­tive to be met and that is linked to per­for­mance. The ex­pectancy is that ef­fort will lead to per­for­mance and lead to an out­come which is the re­ward. This en­tails win­ning matches and get­ting the sil­ver­ware, or get­ting close to the sil­ver­ware.

On the other hand, play­ers ex­pect their re­wards through per­for­mance which may be in the form of giv­ing his best or play­ing to live an­other day. They play, but is it their best shy. The way Clubs are changed is a good in­di­ca­tion of what mo­ti­vates them.

The Ref­eree who has the Laws, clar­i­fi­ca­tion and guide­lines to go by, but in­ter­pre­ta­tion plays a key role. The Ref­eree has to ap­ply the Laws and in­ter­pret taking the game as the most im­por­tant. The game should be the core of his mis­sion and, or ob­jec­tive. Sub­or­di­nat­ing the in­di­vid­ual to the game. No two games will be alike. It is un­likely that sit­u­a­tions will be sim­i­lar. It is the game and the way it is played that he should be con­tribut­ing to. In some, it will be more for­ward play, while oth­ers may run the threes. The flow will be im­peded as pil­lars and posts are ad­vised to fringe around the break­down. Some may slow down the game on pur­pose. That is their game.

It is at this point that the 3 cen­tre stage dots need to be co­he­sive in their ap­proach on how the game is to be a played.

This will then take the game to a level that will bring the joy of Rugby and then, trick­ling in of spec­ta­tors. The spon­sors will be happy. No mat­ter what Laws are there or what Reg­u­la­tions are in force, un­til and un­less the game is served it will be what it is.

Vi­mal Per­era is a for­mer Rugby Ref­eree, Coach and an Ac­cred­ited Ref­er­ees'

Eval­u­a­tor IRB

Even if Sri Lanka gets the ser­vices of the world's best ref­er­ees, there are still un­happy souls - File pic

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