Rugby World Cup roundup
|Best team ||New Zealand |
|Best game ||Canada / Italy |
honourable mentions for the Scotland / Australia quarter-final
and for Japan / South Africa
|Best referee ||Wayne Barnes |
|Most exciting team ||New Zealand |
|Most exciting player ||Julian Savea (New Zealand) |
|Most impressive player ||Brodie Retallick (New Zealand) |
|Most unexpectedly good and bad team performances ||Georgia's mighty effort against New Zealand's handling errors |
|Best national anthem ||Wales |
|Best Morris dance ||Tonga. Ooh, controversial! Mostly because I don't like Kapa o Pango. |
|Best kicking dance ||Dan Biggar (Wales), for looking like a meth addict trying to scrape the insects out from under his skin |
|Best facial hair ||Ray Barkwill (Canada), honourable mention for Hubert Buydens (Canada) |
|Best fans ||The South Africans who shared their whisky with me on the train back to London after watching their team lose to Japan. |
|Most science-fictional name ||Nehe Milner-Skudder (New Zealand) |
My gripe from the last couple of years about scrums not being fed straight is at last being addressed a little bit by World Rugby. Feeds were a lot straighter in this tournament than they have been over the past many years, and a few of the most blatant skew-whiff feeds were penalised. The recent rule changes about setting up the scrum appear to have addressed the problem of scrum collapses at least a bit, but more work is still needed.
I have a new gripe though - I think that referees are playing Advantage for too long. They are currently playing it after an infringement until a team gets a significant advantage. It should be scaled back. In rugby league, advantage doesn't last anything like as long, and the game is better for it.
I propose that penalty advantage should finish when the team with advantage has carried the ball forward past the point at which the penalty would be awarded, even if only momentarily, or has kicked the ball forward no matter what the result of the kick. Knock-on advantage should end when the second player has possession or the ball is kicked. I realise that this makes advantage worth a lot less. As a result teams might be tempted to just stop playing so that there is no advantage. Therefore I also propose that not trying to take advantage should itself attract a penalty. It also makes penalties worth less, as you are less likely to get "two bites at the cherry". I'm fine with that. And it makes the punishment for technical infringements less onerous, which I'm also OK withI prefer a game with lots of running, driving mauls and so on leading to tries, as opposed to a series of penalty goals arising from pedantic nit-picking. Again, rugby league gets this right.
I also have a minor gripe about the amount of time taken up by kickers doing ridiculous dances. They have a minute to take the kick, and the few stupid dances that I timed averaged just over 40 seconds. I propose cutting the allowed time from when the ball is placed on the kicking tee to when boot strikes ball to 15 seconds.