The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Welcome back to another edition of the Tuesday Top 5. After a weekend that left some of us frustrated, soggy, depressed or jubilant (if you are a Rebels fan) we thought would take a quick jump over to Tokyo, talk refereeing, then more refereeing, give the Super W some love and check out what someone else has decided are the top 5 tries from the weekend.

Rugby in Japan

On Saturday we saw the Sunwolves take on the Chiefs in Tokyo. The stadium was packed, according to the commentators 17,000 tickets had been sold as of that morning out of a capacity 20,000. The game was pretty good, the Sunwolves pushed the Chiefs at times, though they never really looked like they would threaten for the win. But the crowd were behind them 100%. Actually, the crowd were there for the Chiefs too, when McKenzie was taking a shot at goal so many people in the crowd behind him are holding cameras. We don’t see that sort of enthusiasm for home teams, let alone away teams, here in Australia.

sunwolves fans with cameras copy

How many cameras can you see?

The Top League is huge in Japan, games there draw big crowds. But did you know that at the same time the Sunwolves were playing, there were Top League matches going on? In fact, just 90 minutes down the road there was a double header, with one of the teams playing being the top team, the Wild Knights. Two of the top 4 teams were playing at the same time as the Sunwolves, yet there was still a near full house at Chichiban. There is such a big interest in rugby in Japan, with the new broadcast deal and unknown future of Super Rugby, it would be insane for the powers that be to not try and benefit from that interest.

Refereeing

It wouldn’t be rugby season if there weren’t complaints about the refereeing. But I have to say, so far I am confused. Have the laws changed? Well I checked, and law 13.4 says “Players on their feet and without the ball must not fall on or over players on the ground who have the ball or who are near it.” How many times have we seen players dive onto players who are on the ground this season? I think it has happened in nearly every game but not been called. But the big one from the weekend? I was under the impression from what I had read and seen before the season started, that the referees were going to be tough on high tackles. To me, this means anything high, even if it isn’t technically a tackle. Say, for example, a shoulder. A shoulder to the head is high, right? Dangerous? In the world cup it was pretty much guaranteed to be a red card, but not now. Apparently referees have an odd idea of a player’s anatomy, as apparently this is Tom Banks’ shoulder being hit.

shoulder to shoulder

Shoulder to shoulder!

There was the debatable decision not to give Dane Coles a card, and I’m not even going to get into the Reds match. Across the board breakdowns are a mess, teams are able to give away multiple penalties with not much of a warning from the ref (Sharks v Hurricanes were guilty of this) and offside is generally optional (or at lease a little “loose”). Then there is the amount of time taken on scrum resets and TMO checks. There are numerous factors behind the decline in popularity of rugby, but maybe we can add this to the list.

Speaking of refereeing…

There was a moment in the Hurricanes v Sharks match that had me scratching my head. At first it looked like a pretty simple call, the player was in an offside position when he picked the ball up, therefore there was no try. But watching the replay, it wasn’t so simple and had me wondering what the correct call was.
In the 18th minute there was a scrum to the Hurricanes close to the try line. It was a bit of a battle when suddenly Vaea Fifita ran the few metres to the try line, ball in hand and scored.

How did he get the ball? Why was everyone caught so off guard? The assistant ref said the player was off side and the try was disallowed.

But then TJ Perenara said the ball was kicked by a Sharks player so Fifita wasn’t offside. And the ref actually listened to him.


Off to the TMO we went to check.

So the ball was kicked out of the scrum by the Canes. It then came off the foot of a Sharks player. Does that put everyone onside like when a kick is touched? The ruling was that it was not played at so did not put the Hurricanes player back onside. I can only assume this was the right call, as we have this weird expectation that the referees know the laws, but judging by smother decisions form the weekend who knows? What do you think? Was it the correct call?

Super W

On Saturday, while we waited for the rains to ease before heading out to the Brumbies match, we tuned in to the Brumbies Women v Rugby WA. I am really glad we did, as I was surprised by what we saw. Watching this game, what I realised that it is no longer a case of it being “Women’s Rugby”. It is now simply rugby, played by women. Is there a difference? Well I think so. Women’s rugby has a kind of a lesser implication to it, like it needs to be pointed out that it is being played by women. But what I was watching was rugby. Proper, hard hitting rugby with some great skills on display, better in fact than some I saw in the men’s game on Friday night. Kicks were going well into the opposition half, I didn’t see many knock on’s, and if you know how wet it was like in Canberra on Saturday that in itself is incredible, and there were some very good tries being scored. The fact that it was women playing was kind of irrelevant, it was just a good game to watch. To me it looked as though the skills have gone up a level since last year, the players looked confident with ball in hand and were firing passes off, really pushing the line in attack. I am really looking forward to watching more of the Super W games this year.

Prop Christina Sekona QLD Reds Womens Training Photo Credit Brendan Hertel / QRU

Tries of the week – not selected by us

I think there are some great tries here, but personally (as happy as I was to see them score it) I wouldn’t have included the Brumbies try.

And another pick for try of the week

  • Steve

    Thanks for the writeup MST.

    Every time I see the Japanese support for the Sunwolves I find it depressing that they are being excluded next year, especially when you then go and look at the crowds in Aus. Just boneheaded decision-making.

    And oh man, refereeing consistency. Re: the Brumbies, it didn’t cost them the game but the decision was wrong. How the refs said ‘no clear contact to the head’ is beyond me – I suspect that was Berry’s way of weaselling out of a tough decision. The outcome for the Reds, for me, was much worse.

    I must admit the season as a whole isn’t filling me with enthusiasm at the moment, although that may just be me. The Rebels and the Tahs in particular are weighing on my optimism for Australian rugby – What is going on with them? The Brumbies and Reds at least you feel like things could go well with a bit more time.

    • Patrick

      Agree with all.

  • Patrick

    Seriously neutral referees must be very high on RA’s priority list. The penalty for and againsts that some of the Aussie (and NZ) teams have managed in RSA and Argentina are just so staggering that it is obvious that something is wrong.

    • John Tynan

      The main reason I like that independent ref idea is that the Reds will never be refereed by Angus Gardner again.

  • Reds Revival

    I’m also surprised that they put the Brumbies rolling maul in the top tries of the week. Why didn’t they choose one of the plethora of rolling maul tries from the Jags? Not sure why the Reds backline try didn’t make it. That was a cracker. For mine, DMac’s try was the best of the round. Beautiful timing and footwork on that one. A joy to watch.

    • Yowie

      Not sure why the Reds backline try didn’t make it.

      NSW-centric bias is why. That’s why the highlights are all Waratahs razzle-….er….never mind.

      • Hoss

        That’s enough out of you thank you. Nobody and i mean nobody can consistently spill the pill, crab sideways and miss tackles whilst sprinting out of the line and coming up empty like my Kurtley. Now THAT;s a highlight reel.

        • AllyOz

          send it to Saracens… they will be looking for Div 2 players next season

        • Hoss

          A swap for Will Skelton you reckon ? Nice.

        • Yowie

          I don’t know if Skelton is nimble enough to slot in at No. 10 or fullback (or the back generally outside of some sort of Jonah Lomu wing option).

        • Keith Butler

          I believe he is a silthlike 125 kg now. Sounds like a perfect 12 to me.

        • AllyOz

          Yes Hoss that might work. They might end up with Skelton anyway but, saying that, he then might put back all the weight he was carrying before and go back to a 10 – 20 minutes from bench player that he was before he left if he comes back into the Australian system.

    • Yowie

      Not sure why the Reds backline try didn’t make it.

      NSW-centric bias is why. That’s why the highlights are all Waratahs razzle-….er….never mind.

    • Mica

      Not only the speed and footwork but the distribution. His pass was pinpoint – a true thing of beauty at the speed he was travelling at.

  • Brumby Runner

    On the Fifita no try, I reckon it was the right call but for a reason (or two) that didn’t get mentioned.

    Fifita was already unbound and a couple of metres away from the scrum when the ball came out, at which time the scrum has been completed. It should have been a penalty against him for unbinding imo.

    To cap it off, he was well in front of the ball in the scrum. I presume the same law would apply to him as applies to the scrum half in that he must always be behind the ball. Therefore, imo again, he was technically off side even if he was allowed to unbind.

    I see two clear reasons why it was a no try. Should have been a penalty against him. The visuals also were pretty bad, so on all counts no try.

    • Tomthusiasm

      Hadn’t the Canes won a scrum penalty though? Is the ref supposed to reverse it because he scored after the ball came out of the scrum? To me the Canes had pushed through, I can see how it might not be try due to technicalities but a penalty? Scrums do my head in!

      • Nutta

        The penalty for Black1 dropping was the original call. No clear and legal advantage accrued (for many reasons – see my other comment) meaning no try should/could be awarded so go back to B1 scrum penalty.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Thanks, I should really read down the thread before commenting eh

        • Nutta

          It’s a comment/forum online. Premature … is expected. I suffer from it regularly.

        • Yowie

          “Premature for whom?” I say. If Mrs Yowie can’t get with the program within the 40 seconds then whose fault is that?

        • Tomthusiasm

          It happens to all men at some point in their lives I guess, nothing to be ashamed of

      • Brumby Runner

        No, no reversal. I was commenting on having viewed only the live game, no replays. I did overlook or forget that advantage was being played. Doesn’t change my opinion of Fifita’s involvement though.

      • Mica

        No the penalty doesn’t get reversed – just advantage ceases.
        Penalty ‘canes – option TJ?

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Hey MST, love your work. There was certainly some interesting refereeing in the weekend, as I mentioned elsewhere I can see the issues with some of it as referees will ignore some things that don’t have a material affect on the game but it does make it hard for spectators as they cant see why it is picked up at times and not at others. However, the high shots does need more consistency if we want to remove them from the game. I admit I’m biased but I saw the SA player pick the ball up and on his way up when Coles hit him so I didn’t think the diving on a player on the ground was an issue. I thought it was high and he was lucky not to get pinged for that though.
    I thought Fifeata was off side as he was off the scrum before it was over and that’s unlawful. I didn’t understand the ruling given and not sure it’s correct but the right outcome which was the main thing.
    I’m with you on the women’s rugby. I loved watching the games last year before the men’s tests and the women’s 7’s is almost better than the men’s at times. Absolutely it is just rugby played with women and I hope it keeps growing.

    • Tomthusiasm

      Thing that pissed me off about Coles’ hit was that we were in a perfectly good scoring position had he competed fairly for the ball. If we score another try we grab the +3 try bonus point. Bit mindless really, probably fizzing to get back out there and went in too gung-ho

      • Mica

        He’s just a grub Tom. A real shame because on a pure skill set he’s awesome and doesn’t need to resort to the grubby things he does since his talent will carry him.

        • Tomthusiasm

          I think his hard edge is needed, but yeah it would be great if he could dial back the red mist moments

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Hey MST, love your work. There was certainly some interesting refereeing in the weekend, as I mentioned elsewhere I can see the issues with some of it as referees will ignore some things that don’t have a material affect on the game but it does make it hard for spectators as they cant see why it is picked up at times and not at others. However, the high shots does need more consistency if we want to remove them from the game. I admit I’m biased but I saw the SA player pick the ball up and on his way up when Coles hit him so I didn’t think the diving on a player on the ground was an issue. I thought it was high and he was lucky not to get pinged for that though.
    I thought Fifeata was off side as he was off the scrum before it was over and that’s unlawful. I didn’t understand the ruling given and not sure it’s correct but the right outcome which was the main thing.
    I’m with you on the women’s rugby. I loved watching the games last year before the men’s tests and the women’s 7’s is almost better than the men’s at times. Absolutely it is just rugby played with women and I hope it keeps growing.

  • John Tynan

    I’m biased, but how were there none of the reds tries in at least the Top 5 video? A rolling maul, an intercept, but no real multi-phase play (in the first package – obvs second one was many phase). But how good was the Mackenzie ball after breaking tackles to his winger?

    • AllyOz

      I think O’Connor’s round the corner pass was worthy of a top five try within that collection.

      • AllyOz

        actually the Liam Wrght try and the second from CFS were pretty decent too.

  • Nutta

    That scrum:
    1. Advantage for Black1 dropping (cool)
    2. Scrum wheels past 90* should be reset (1st issue) or else penalty offence for deliberate wheeling (but which way?)
    3. Given Ref allows continuance to see if advantage accrues, Black sock kicks backwards onto Black9 which ricochets towards tryline – no offside
    4. Yellow7 had already disengaged pre-ball clearing the scrum. Normally a penalty against Yellow and so no advantage accrued.

    So, given the try cannot be awarded following the Yellow indiscretion (event 4) and no clear and obvious advantage had accrued, Ref should go back to the original advantage from event1. Simple.

    However, after some serious contemplation over a bottle of Irish lat night, I conclude that over the weekend I listened to Michael Hooper abuse the crap out of the Ref, the Reds got marched for backchat (in the face of unfathomable decision making) and yet both TJP and Smith were allowed to basically referee their own matches. So whilst I find the Refereeing of Jags vs Reds frustrating, in the face of continued inability demonstrated by Australian Leaders (be they the Capts or senior players) to manage Referees whilst we implode in on ourselves to lose un-losable matches (yes Donkeys and Reds I’m looking straight at you) then I am of the opinion that we – Aus Rugby in general – need to SHUT THE FK UP ABOUT REFEREES FOR A WHILE. And take the trees out of our own eyes first.

    And Yes, I include myself in that chip.

    Until next weekend.

    Maybe.

    • Tomthusiasm

      Thanks for the scrum explanation. Somebody superglued my yellow and black goggles to my eyeballs though (probably me), I still think they should’ve awarded the try!

    • Who?

      Nick Bishop, whenever he mentions TJP, always speaks in glowing terms about how TJ’s a better ref than pretty well any sanctioned ref. :-D

    • I think one of the things you need to bear in mind, and you kind of touched on it, is HOW the various players interact with the referee. TJP and Smith never lose their cool, and usually fairly politely suggest an alternative point of view and ask the ref to check it out, or better still leave it up to the ref to decide to check it out or not. They accept any decision along that road fairly graciously, at least while they’re near the ref – they may well swear when they’re 20 metres away. So they build a good rapport and the refs listen because they’ve got a friendly person in a good position who isn’t demanding anything, who says please and thank you, and accepts the rough with the smooth, all with a smile and a thank you. The one for TJP on Saturday – the ref had awarded a try, was minded to give a try, the AR raised some doubt, TJP was in an excellent position to see and raised some more doubt… it’s not a huge temper tantrum or anything at any point.

      Then you get an angry teapot who gets up in your face about each and every decision, even when he’s been told the TMO has already checked – I’m thinking of Sexton in the Wales v Ireland game most recently, but Farrell does it, Hooper does it and more. Why do you stop and give these guys the benefit of the doubt if all they do is scream at you, tell you to check again even when you’ve told the TMO has already looked?

      I agree, I think Eales might be the last Australian captain I’d rate as really good at this. I wonder what is wrong with the process? Other countries have had good and bad ones, and less good ones who have improved over time. Wales have had a string of three really good ones in a row, and the AB have had a couple.

      • Nutta

        Your argument is – in my opinion – completely valid. TJP and slightly behind him Smithy manage Refs well. They don’t insult them. They don’t puff up and flex their lats etc etc. I also think that as 9’s they tend to be smaller physical specimens so as a Ref you’re not confronted with a heavy breathing condom stuffed with walnuts who is 6inches taller than you are. That isn’t a deciding factor as guys like Eales and Paul O’Conner proved. But it';s one less influencing hurdle to overcome. But leaving that aside, the bit that really threw me was the choice of language. The play-mic picking up on Hooper especially who was busy calling out from 3 Defenders away and over the ruck “C’mon, that was just a bad call! That was just a wrong call and you know it!” So he’s calling the guy out, in ear-shot of all surrounding players and mic’s, and not developing any sort of rapport. And we keep picking guys as Capt or they come to group Leadership whom I’m sure the players in their insular world are enraptured by and who they would climb over broken glass for, but who simply seem incapable of talking civilly with a Ref. And I’m sorry to say that is perhaps one of the biggest areas that Cheks let us down in terms of setting a standard.

        • I’d add Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones and Read as pretty intimidating presences as opposition players can attest, but who are or were good with the ref.

          But I agree 9’s probably have an easier time. And refs can take odd complaints well. The GP over the weekend, I can’t remember the match or the ref sadly (Dixon maybe?), but he gave an unpopular decision. Someone in the ruck loudly complained, but not in too insulting a way. The ref called him out, said he understood the emotions of the game but any more complaints and it would be 10 metres or cards.

          The match was actually really quite good natured after that (and the complaint was clearly just frustration rather than “you suck, ref”).

Rugby

Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

More in Rugby