Reds and Brumbies – Skirmishes Before The Battle!

Scott Allen April 18, 2013 17

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The Reds and Brumbies have been involved in a PR battle today pointing out that their opposition needs to be monitored closely by the referee in Saturday nights match.

Reds Brumbies BreakdownIt started with an article from Ewen McKenzie for the Sydney Morning Herald today with the headline “Mucks Killing The Ball And Game” where he made a number of comments regarding issues such as the impact of players being offside and interpretations at the ruck. In his column Link claimed that tactics used by some teams are very effective at slowing the release of the ball from the ruck including these comments – “The ball can also be slowed by many other interesting tactics, which include falling on the ball, counter-rucking and very specific infringements that make it difficult to play and referee” and “A quick look at the statistics show us that the two best teams in the competition at doing this are the Chiefs and the Brumbies.”

The first response from the Brumbies came from Laurie Fisher on Twitter this morning saying “Interesting and timely article by Ewan (sic) today. I wonder if he has e mailed a copy to the referee for this weekend. No stone unturned. Class.”

At their press conference in Canberra today the Brumbies followed up by releasing the statistics on the penalties each team has conceded this season and the reason for those penalties as I understand it, from our man on the ground Brumby Jack, to show that the whilst the Brumbies may have given away a high number of penalties, the Reds are not much better.

So what do the statistics show?

The Brumbies have given away more penalties (93) than any other team in the competition, although the Reds are the second most penalised team (86).

The Brumbies have conceded more penalties than the Reds in the following categories: breakdown 48 to 39; scrum 10 to 9; and lineout 5 to 0. The Brumbies lead the competition with the number of penalties at the breakdown.

The Reds have conceded more penalties than the Brumbies in the following categories: offside play 25 to 23; and foul play 14 to 7.

No doubt the point of this little skirmish is to support the claims each team will make to the referees before the match that the other side needs to be watched closely. Whether the referees will even be aware of the comments made in public or not, both teams have been trying to do what they can to win the skirmish before the real battle.

There will be a lot of pressure on the referee, Glen Jackson, and it’s a big vote of confidence for him from SANZAR that he’s been given this match rather than one of the more experienced referees.

With all the talk about George Smith and Liam Gill together with the importance of the breakdown battle I’m sure there will be plenty of bodies thrown into rucks and mauls. Of course the more bodies in and around the ball, the more players need to get into rucks earlier to try and get the ball back quickly or to slow it down before the opposition arrives. This can often lead to players infringing because of their desperation.

Whilst the focus from referees this season has largely been on ensuring the tackler(s) clear the ball immediately I’ve noticed that referees are also starting to referee the attacking team a little more, especially in regards to players not coming from behind the last feet in a tackle or ruck situation.

With two highly proficient flankers like Smith and Gill getting over the ball carrier almost the moment they hit the ground there can be a tendency for support runners who’ve slightly overrun the ball carrier to see the threat of a defender going for the ball and enter the tackle or ruck from the side. I’ve included a few examples from both teams matches last week in the video below. I think we may see a few penalties for these types of infringements this week.

 

Discussion

  • The Rant

    I get the point scott – but for me half of these should never be penalties (though technically they may be):

    - 2nd Smith example

    - Simmons

    - Alexander

    - Palmer/mowen

    Most of these examples are the 2nd guy to the tackle area and in some cases the tackle is not yet complete so technically no ruck exists. Rugby is not a sport where you have a teammate lined up behind you, guys will 9 time out o 10 be next to the teammates and in real time will never be able to go back and come up in one smooth motion. I think there needs to be a real discussion on what is ‘through the gate’ and when it applies. My biggest problem is when players come in from the side BEHIND the ball. This is just cheating and should always be penalised. There are some great sloppy examples in your vid. But if you come in from a diagonal at the head of the ruck/over the ball then fair play I say. If the opposition can get you at the front of the ruck it shouldn’t matter which direction they come from. This is not killing the contest – this IS the contest.
    It’s a fine line I guess. But in my book the rules should always be slightly in favor of the attacking team and promote quick ball.

    • Scott Allen

      You do know that there are laws about how you can enter a tackle area before a ruck is formed don’t you?

      Regardless of what you think the rules should be, there are rules in place that players are getting penalised for – the only reason attacking players are not penalised more is because the referee can’t watch everything.

      Referees have been focussing on the defending team but there are more penalties now being applied against the attacking team – whether this is because of a direction to the referees or just a trend they are developing, it is happening.

      • The Rant

        I’m not saying you’re wrong and lord knows I don’t want a technical argument with you – no contest! Adn no i didn’t know there are laws about how you enter a tackle area before the ruck is formed. And I’ve played the game for years. Who the hell is going to standback and care anout where they’re standing when they are armsreach from their teammate while he still mostly vertical and being driven/ridden/ripped at. Bloody hell there is a law for everything.

        I’m frustrated by the amount of technical penalties that occur in rugby which as you say can never be fully refereed as it would probably mean the whistle going every ruck for one technical reason or another. I’d like to find a way we can encourage fair contests that take into account the speed of the game. My point from your video is that half of them are not even nearly worthy of stopping the game for.

        • Scott Allen

          I see your point and agree that we don’t want constant stoppages.

          I think the shift I’ve started noticing with the referees is about balance. The breakdown is supposed to be a contest – by implication that means both sides should have a fair crack. If defensive players were coming from the side like the attackers in the video there would be an outcry.

          By focusing so much on the tackler rolling away I think you’ll find the attacking teams have started to realise they can get away with this type of play and the referees seem in recent weeks to be starting to get a little more balance back between attack and defence.

          I’m pretty sure if they continue to penalise the attacking team more for this sort of infringement, coaches will say to players “Okay, that was good whilst it lasted but no more breakdown penalties on attack so let’s start coming through the gate”.

    • Scott Allen

      A tackle is made once the ball carrier goes to ground – i.e. their knee hits the ground or any part of their body above the knee.

      At that point the laws regarding offside at the tackle apply, then as other players join a ruck gets formed and the offside laws continue.

  • bill

    Bit hard for an attacking team to play with width and support/maintain possession if we get real finicky here. But contest has to work both ways or it’s not a contest.

    Thought Palmer/Mowen would be fine if Mowen’s latched onto a legal player in Palmer.

    I thought Jake playing the favourites card earlier in the week was a bit odd, I can only think it was more about trying to keep ‘pressure’ from his team’s heads rather than ratcheting it up on the reds. Wouldn’t have thought the Brumbs would need that though. Maybe just drumming up the hype around the game.

    • InconvenientTruthsayer

      What the Brumbies got away with in game 1 against the Reds was a disgrace. Why do the Reds seem to attract the inexperienced refs?

      Brumbies very lucky round 1. Good on Ewen! Had to be said.

      • Maxt

        Brumbies 24 reds 6….brumbies lucky?! You are dreaming.

        • servo

          The Reds are no angels either, like others they have their flaws too. All this comment coming form a one eyed Reds supporters. Found that this site had more people with constructive criticism. When did Foxsports numpties find this website? I was hoping that they never did.

      • Redsin2013

        spot on! Brumbies somehow won the first game despite losing the possession battle and playing extremely negative rugby. Their inability to obey any of the ruck laws is a constant source of amazement. Link calls it how it is and suddenly Jake White labels the Reds as dirty. They appear to have completely run out of steam this season and were ordinary against the Highlanders. They face a fired up Reds side in blistering form tomorrow night, at Suncorp. Only a fool would back Ponies. What Stephen Moore does behind the scenes to gain such high praise is beyond me – he carries for less than a meter every-time and plays pillar to pillar the way Dunning used to. Someone strap a GPS to his back and see that he only runs about ten meters per game. Another of Deans pets that is a dead-set-fail merchant!

        • JusticeForQLD

          Agree 100%. How the Brumbies sit atop the conference is beyond me – at least we won’t have to wait long for the natural order to reassert itself.

        • PlanetsAligned

          Took Reds 15 years to win a championship. Natural order, Reds to be waiting for another 15 years!

        • JusticeForQLD

          Maybe QLD should cut the player-drain to the ACT then? As for 15 years, when was the last time the Brumbies won anything?
          It’s hypocritical of the Brumbies to claim to be aggrieved when McKenzie calls for a clean up of the game, then they launch their own scathing attack based on apparent foul-play.
          Brumbies cheated in game 1 and got away with it. Cheating and getting away with it is what all teams do and seeking an edge should always be encouraged. Brumbies won the first round but they will lose tomorrow night.

        • TwiceChamps

          Nine years ago, and 3 years before that, if my fingers serves me, that’s 2 Championships. Reds win one Championship and they think they’re the most successful team in Oz. But I definitely like how the way the Reds play, there’s nothing wrong with being passionate but it’s a shame about the arrogant supporters.

  • Brumby runner

    I am worried about how the whole game will be officiated. IMO Jackson is about the worst ref going around in that he seems to make more obvious errors than any other. This could be a lottery where Jackson holds the winning numbers.

    Given an evenhanded officiating, I would see the Reds winning this in a close match. Their attack is better than the Brums, and the crowd should lift them.

  • AJ

    Isn’t coming through the gate between the tackled players head and feet? Looks as though a number of these are pretty fine Scott.
    Not sure how this kind of analysis benefits either the brumbies or the reds when we’re taking on other teams for finals spots. Hope they don’t bother to read this site

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