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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The ELVs 

Last year in the Tri nations under the ELVs there were 43 tries scored. This year under the 'old' ruck rules there were 27 tries scored.

Last year there were 33 penalty goals kicked. This year there were 69 penalty goals kicked (from 86 attempts). I timed some of the penalty attempts in an ANZC match in the weekend and the successful penalties typically took 100-110 seconds from when it was awarded until when the ball was kicked off from halfway. Unsuccessful penalties it was around 80 seconds from the penalty being awarded until the 22m restart. It means that roughly 140 minutes was spent waiting for play to restart after a side elected to kick for goal. That's 19% of the playing time gone just for penalty attempts alone. There were also 19 drop goal attempts in the mix. And then there's scrums which this year were shit as well. Having done some stats on a couple of NPC games you can expect roughly 20% of any given match to be spent waiting for a scrum to deliver the ball into play as though it were a stork delivering a 24 carat baby.

Last year SA would have been awarded free kicks inside their own half and put up, 'up and unders' or tapped and taken a ruck. This year they banged over penalties from inside their own half and won test matches.

I don't know about other people but nothing fucks me off more than a side getting a 50/50 ruck penalty miles away from the try line and profiting by 3 points from it. It has long been a criticism of rugby that it is a game ruled by the whistle and the boot and that was the reason the ELVs were brought into place. There were complaints made that they meant there was more kicking under them which I find hilarious. The South Africans have shown exactly how to play under the old rules. Kick long, kick far and most important of all kick the living shit out of it. The ABs have got into trouble through trying to run the ball out of their own half or stupid chip kicks (which should rightly be a risky strategy). The game as it is now (and always has been) is all about field position. But with professionalism has come professional goal kickers who can kick more accurately over greater distances than previous generations of kickers. SOme of these older kickers could kick them from big distances but they weren't nailing 80, 90+ % of their kicks.

Of the 402 points scored in this years Tri-Nations 44% have come about through tries (includes the try and the conversions) while 56% have come through penalties and a handful of drop goals. Last year there were 386 points scored with 71% scored as a result of tries and 29% as a result of penalties. The difference is phenomenal and purely down to reverting back to the old breakdown rules.

That fairly clearly says that you are more likely now to amass more points and therefore win more games by what sort of field position you can get into and how often you can get the opposition pinged for (usually) breakdown infringements. That is of course something of a skill in itself, sometimes. Most of the time however sides get called for a guess scrum penalty or either team could have been penalised 4 times each at a ruck but in the end the ref rolled the dice and picked whoever he happened to be looking at last.

To me it is just plain wrong that sides can gain a large amount of their points when never realistically threatening the opposition try line.

I have a few ideas as to how they can make the punishment at least fit the crime a little more snugly.

Seeing as how they are unlikely to go back to free kicks for the more minor infringements here's a few...

1) In rugby if you get a penalty but decide to kick for touch and you miss kick the ball and it goes dead it comes all the way back for a scrum. Although I would go further and give the defending team a free kick with scrums banned as an option because they slow things down too much. The same should apply to penalty goal attempts that miss. Forget a 22 drop out. Copy the NFL. The defending team gets to take over possession where you took the missed kick from. An example would be the 60m kick by Steyn in the Hamilton test. Imagine the extra pressure if he misses. NZ gets a free kick 40 metres out from the SA try line.

That to me would encourage teams who have been awarded a penalty 40-60 metres out to kick for an attacking lineout. If they want to shoot for goal they can but they run a risk for chosing to do so. As they get closer to the posts the risk goes down and also they were more deserving of gaining the three points as they were in better field position and were perhaps more likely to score in the first place.

2) A bit more radical but I would make tries worth 6 points and the conversion worth one. That would at least mean an unconverted try is worth the same as two penalties or drop goals. The NFL have got this scoring system worked out properly.

3) A third even more radical option would be to ban all penalty attempts for goal from outside a certain distance (say 40m) or to make penalties worth different amounts. Three points inside 30 metres, two points from there to halfway and just one point beyond that.

The last idea is basically bat shit but I think the first two have legs and may well come in at some point. The first especially as it seems a contradiction that a penalty where the team has kicked for a lineout and its gone dead should come all the way back but the same rule doesn't apply for a shot at goal. The punishment is harsher for a team trying to score a try than one trying to kick a goal.

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roughly 130 minutes was spent waiting for play to restart after a side elected to kick for goal

13 minutes, perhaps? Probably felt like 130 though.

As I've said a million times to anyone who will listen, and many who won't, there should seldom if ever be a reason to give away possession.

And ODIs/T20s should be replaced by 40 over a side competitions. Forty40 if you will.
Nup, DC, when I say 130 minutes I mean 130 minutes.

I'm talking about in total over the 9 games of course. 86 shots at goal based on 95 seconds for the successful ones and 70 seconds for the unsuccessful ones (in reality it would be a touch longer).

It's 14.5 minutes of the 80 every game just waiting for penalty goal kicks.

Some games it more like 10 minutes some, more like 20 minutes. As much asa quarter of the match wasted.

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