Watching this, I wouldn’t let my kid play League
With a dearth of ‘proper’ rugby last weekend, I was reduced to watching Rugby League, something I haven’t done for a while.
Of course, they start with only 13 men on each side, but had Union’s diktats been applied, the England v New Zealand game might have finished with six against six!
League fans declare that Union is ‘soft’, and Union supporters proclaim League to be boring. On the basis of what I saw, both are on the money.
I’ve never really ‘got’ League, with its meaningless powder-puff scrums, and endless sets of tackles, but I would think long and hard about allowing any kid of mine to play it.
On the Rugby League website they start their section on concussion by saying that League is a ‘full-contact sport’ and that it’s unrealistic to believe concussions can ever be eradicated.
That said, their comment that they can happen every day on our streets and in school playgrounds, could be seen as being slightly complacent. After that their rules are very similar to World Rugby’s, but what I saw in the England v New Zealand match still worried me. A lot of tackles seemed to involve leading with an elbow, and there were plenty of what I would interpret as swinging arms, but the officials seemed to accept this as being part of the game.
Rugby Union is, depending on your viewpoint, in a mess over the tackle laws, or going through a period of adjustment, but from what I saw, we’re further down the road than League – and by some margin.
Are you enthralled by the prospect of four weeks of international rugby, or doesn’t it float your boat? After yesterday’s encounter with South Africa, England face the All Blacks, Japan and then the Wallabies in Twickenham sell-outs, raising millions for the RFU.
Both the Premiership and the PRO14 will play on two of those weekends, with clubs, provinces and regions fielding weakened sides. In England, the Premiership Rugby Cup will fill the other two gaps, ensuring that club rugby fans will always have something to watch, and the owners will have some cash coming in.
Which would you prefer, your club to win the Premiership or the Champions Cup, or your country to win the World Cup? My answer would be simple: I’d love England (or Scotland) to become world champions, but that would take second place to my club loyalties.
Yesterday, Twickenham, the Principality and the Aviva were full of people loving international rugby who perhaps see things differently. They love the experience of being in a great stadium, having a few beers, and cheering on their country – many wouldn’t be that bothered by the weekly grind of club games.
If some people are content with their rugby involvement being six or seven Twickenham internationals each year, that’s fine – others love the thrill of following their club through good and bad. You pays your money…
Igot some grief for what was seen as my unsympathetic stance on the future of the Lions, but I just can’t get as exercised about this as some.
Phrases such as ‘impending tragedy’ and ‘death knell’ have been trotted out – you would think that an Act of Parliament had been passed declaring the Lions to be illegal. All that’s happened is they’re being asked to make a few changes to fit in with the modern world.
I was enthralled by the last Lions tour, but I’m of an age where I recall listening through the wireless static to matches played on the other side of the world. Using the club v country example, a Lions tour win would be great, but it would feature behind both club and country success for me.
Some of the people who have been most vocal about the perceived threat to the Lions are rugby heroes of mine, but the likes of Fran Cotton and Sir Ian McGeechan retired from playing almost 40 years ago, when the game was very, very different. John Spencer’s playing career finished even longer ago than that.
All are hugely distinguished elder statesmen, but maybe they’re not the best people to understand where the Lions fit into the modern game?
Leading with the elbow: England v New Zealand Rugby League