The Tuesday top five - Green and Gold Rugby

The Tuesday top five

The Tuesday top five

1. The Sharks have lost their bite

Every side is entitled to have a bad day at the office or even two or three, but it was surprising to see the Sharks being so inept at home against the Highlanders, who were the lowest-ranked Kiwi team before the weekend. Nor did they look like competition leaders in their butt-ugly win against cellar-dweller Cheetahs the week before.

The Sharks hadn’t had a try scored against them in the first half this season, but the The Clan ran in three of them. Well, one was hardly from a run, because it was from a driving maul, South African-style, which must have miffed the local crowd.

Skipper Bismark du Plessis and pig-dog Jean Deysel were missing for the Sharks, but no Super Rugby side is crying crocodile tears for opponents at this time of the year.

Anyway, the player they missed most is their injured flyhalf Patrick Lambie.who tore his bicep but may be back for the finals. Without him the Sharks kicked the ball down the throats of The Clan and they used it patiently.

Malakai Fekitoa – scored an impossible try

Even if the  Sharks had all their roster available they would have had problems.

The Highlanders played their best game of the season with the Smiths doing their thing, the NZ Super Rugby rookie of the year (mark my words) Malakai Fekitoa, scoring an impossible try, and no-frills refugees from other teams Shane Christie (Crusaders) and Richard Buckman (Hurricanes) relishing their chance to start regularly.

The Sharks usually play decently on their overseas trip but their recent form will have their opponents circling them.

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  • Bobas

    Was really enjoying it till I read number 5.
    what next Lee?
    get the reff to throw the lineouts like your beloved aussie rules.
    maybe we’ll give the kicking teams a point for getting it close to the posts,
    outlaw tackling around the ankles and sign more high profile stars to the Sydney based team so they can stagnate in their careers and have disciplinary issues.

    • Lee Grant

      My beloved Aussie Rules? My arse.

      If you don’t try something new things will stay the same.

      Ever since the power hit, and even with these Law Amendment Trials, the dominant scrum has been dudded by the effects of hitting or pushing before the ball is thrown into the scrum as the law prescribes.

      Dominant scrums have been disadvantaged by early hitting (now pushing) and when they collapse the referees often guess at who was responsible.

      The referee putting the ball in is only one thing I mentioned—and.he will be able to see both sides of the scrum from a low position.

      As I said: where is the harm if it was tried for a couple of rounds of the NRC? Why would you think that was a bad thing for a couple of weeks in a third-tier competition? Why is it bad just because it hasn’t been tried before.?

      Do I think this will work 100%; Hell no.

      Do I think it is worth a try? Hell, yes.

      Why not?

      • David Creagh

        The problem with this idea is the referees have no idea of what actually happens in a scrum in the first place. Where it really started going wrong was when they took the engagement out of the front rows hands and gave it to the referee. Look at some old test matches, six nations and early super rugby games. Dominant scrums rewarded, less resets and a faster setup.

        • Lee Grant

          Couldn’t agree more.

          The first proto-hits I remember were in the late 1970’s as packs started to lurch against each other on the engage.

          The lurching practice ebbed and flowed, gradually getting more impact, but it was only in the early days of professionalism when players got paid to be in the gym, when the malign effects of the power-hit were truly spawned.

          Between the RWCs of 1999 and 2003 the power hit became noticeable even to the casual observer.

          Of a sudden they were racing across a short distance of centimetres, and unless the forces met just so there were sudden collapses.

          Instead of outlawing the power hit under the law that front-rows must not rush at each other, the referee honchos decided to manage it and the guessing by referees started big-time..

          That was when dominant scrums started to be disadvantaged and we Aussies were not too unhappy about it, just quietly..

          I thought it was a big mistake not to outlaw the power hit from day one because now they are trying to find their way back up the path of rugby evolution to find a different path that works.

          Maybe a left-field idea of the referee putting the ball into the scrum so he is sure there is a clear tunnel and gets a better idea of why there isn’t, won’t work.

          I don’t like the idea either, but how do we know it doesn’t work if we don’t try it for a few weeks?

        • Douglas

          I was watching a 70’s test the other day – scrums were so simple back then, the scrum was set, the ball went in, came out the back (mostly) and play continued. Fewer resets, no penalties, most of the time the whole thing took less than thirty seconds. Far more enjoyable to watch than the current process.

        • Lee Grant


          Good comment.

          They were even simpler in the 50s and 60’s; Packs virtually walked into each other and waited for the put-in.

          Dominating scrums were allowed to dominate because it was clearer who was at fault if there was an infraction after the ball was thrown in.

          It wasn’t perfect: there were some early shoves and early strikes which were penalised (not free-kicked) but those incidents were fewer.

          There were collapses also but not nearly as many as now. .

          But we can’t go back to that in the real world.

          Professional players who spend considerable time in the gym as part of their employment will always want to get that edge, and you can see it on the “set”.

          The players should just be holding, but if one team pushes before the ball is in the other has to counter and then you get same-old problems..

          Sometimes it is as though the power-hit was not chucked out.

          This is the big difference with the old days—the referees don’t make them hold their line before the put-in,

          If the referees don’t clamp down on the early push the non-offending team doesn’t get the benefit of being awarded the scrum and having his hooker closer to the ball on the put-in. So of course, the scrummie will put the ball in skew— to get that advantage that was forgone.

          The provisions of the scrum laws were written to give an advantage to one side. If referees don’t get the front rows to hold the line on the “set” we will go around the merry-go-round of tinkering for another decade.

      • Pedro

        The problem I have with refs feeding the scrum is that it adds another area where people will call bias on the official. So many tight heads under the current system are caused by balls being rucked forward. People will go nuts if this happens to their team and not the opposition.

        Perhaps they could start with the ball already under the hooker’s foot and the scrum starts pushing when the ref gives the call.

    • Patrick

      Settle petal. I thought it was worth trying, even if I don’t particularly like it

    • Robson

      The problem with the ref putting the ball into the scrum is that he then becomes part of the game itself instead of being an observer of the game. I don’t think you really want the referee participating in any area of the game that is deemed to be an advantage to either side. They have a difficult job in appearing to remain neutral as it is. Actually facilitating an advantage, which putting the ball into the scrum is, has the potential of destabilising their neutrality even further.

  • Tibor

    I don’t think the Crusaders achievement in South Africa is that big a deal really. They had a relatively late tour which was good for them to get some players back but also they faced the Lions and Cheetahs. This after the Lions have finally started getting reffed properly as well e.g. no Stuart Berry. If it were say against the Bulls and Cheetahs then it would have more merit. Anyway just my opinion.

    • Patrick

      Crusaders v brumbies will be a big test

    • JPQ

      Regardless of whose the Saders played in SA, the fact is they got two wins, which no one else has got. Away wins are away wins. Now they come home to ChCh with momentum.
      And winter is coming.

  • James

    Yes, the scrum needs to be a contest, but allowing the 9 to feed gives at least some advantage to the team that did not drop the ball or throw the forward pass. Contests do not have to be neutral to be fair, given that one team’s mistake led to the break in play.

    • dr professor

      Absolutely. I can’t work out why we seem to have moved towards trying to make a scrum a ‘neutral’ event this year when it shouldn’t be. The advantage should be with the attacking team in the scrum, after all, the reason they get the scrum is because the other team made an error!

  • gfre

    number 5 was ridiculous

  • dr professor

    I don’t think you can overestimate the effect that taking Bismark DP out of the Sharks has. Not only is he the Sharks most dominate forward and ball forrager, he’s the world’s best 2. It’s hard to suggest that he’s worth 16 points, but like all top players he makes everyone around him better and the Sharks and SA are both significantly worse teams without him present.
    Injuries are slaughtering the Sharks, but you won’t ever get pity from me in this regard. I’m a Reds fan. I can remember our tours of SA in 2007 and 2012 all too well.


Voted most valuable member of the G&GR Forum since records began - Ed.

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