Break­down back-and-forth

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Rugby Union -

When it comes to the break­down in­ter­pre­ta­tions, de­signed to speed up the ruck area, fans prob­a­bly need to be pa­tient. Wet weather of­ten com­pro­mises the ruck speed any­way. Scrum-halves fum­ble a slip­pery ball. Pass­ing is not as crisp. De­fen­sive lines have more time to press up and suf­fo­cate back lines.

Slug­gish sup­port play, with Sale par­tic­u­larly guilty, was a sig­nif­i­cant source of penal­ties this week­end. This al­lowed jack­allers to in­flu­ence games, al­though some ref­er­ees were cer­tainly less strin­gent on tech­nique than oth­ers.

As statis­ti­cian Russ Petty has out­lined on Twit­ter, the to­tal of 138 penal­ties across six games is the se­cond high­est of the 2019-20 sea­son to date. Then again, that tally is only seven more than that of round 13 back in March.

At the start of Su­per Rugby Aotearoa, which also saw a spike in the num­ber of penal­ties, sides adopted a con­struc­tive at­ti­tude and pledged to im­prove their dis­ci­pline, rather than moan about of­fi­ci­at­ing.

Some­times it can be tough to take such an ap­proach. When Sale cen­tre Sam Hill tack­led Alex Dom­brandt, the car­rier pulled the tack­ler back to­wards the ball. Hill was pe­nalised by ref­eree Luke Pearce for fail­ing to roll away.

Ac­cord­ing to Opta, 34 jackal turnovers were won by 30 dif­fer­ent play­ers. Jack Willis, Tom Curry, Sam Lewis and Ro­timi Se­gun – three back-row­ers and a wing – all forced two each. Ex­eter Chiefs were the only team not to reg­is­ter a suc­cess­ful jackal.

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