Rugby’s rulebook has vanished in the maul


Rugby’s rulebook has vanished in the maul

Warren Gatland's proposals to improve the game are simply aimed at castrating the Springboks' Bomb Squad, writes LOUIS DE VILLIERS.


EXPERTS, especially in one of those fields that most of us would be able to master, tend to try to make everything sound as obscure as possible.

As a first-year student at Stellenbosch, my interest in Afrikaans en Nederlands was summarily dashed when the linguistics lecturer informed us that we should no longer say “telwoord" but “kwantor”.

The only possible reason someone would want to do this is to create distance between those who studied Afrikaans en Nederlands I and the rest of the world. The lecturer would keep his post longer if we all went out into the world and said “kwantor”.

This, even more than the book Sy kom met die sekelmaan, caused me not to bother with Afrikaans en Nederlands II.

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

The other day I read that Robert Kiyosaki, author of Cashflow Quadrant (1998), Why We Want You to Be Rich (2006, with Donald Trump) and of course Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997) is bankrupt.

I received Rich Dad Poor Dad a long time ago from a good soul who thought in vain that it might make me responsible.

Then a puppy ate the last 20 pages, but here's a précis: Buy a shabby house. Make it sparkle. Sell ​​it. (Repeat to fade). That's literally all the entire 120 pages say (okay, maybe just the first 100, due to puppy with itchy gums).

If the property market takes a hit, this business plan is financial suicide, of course.

Kiyosaki now owes $1.2 billion. Technically, he is poorer than me, someone barely struggling along in the black. But while I roll around anxiously in bed at night, he couldn't care less — well aware that $1.2 billion in the red is worth more than a few thousand in the black. He even boasts about it.


Rugby does not require much more intelligence than Afrikaans en Nederlands or house renovation, but the discussions around the rules often become equally obscure.

The other day we had to read everywhere how Warren Gatland reckons the sport could improve in the blink of an eye. (Hint: castrate the Bomb Squad).

Below are my suggestions for rule improvement, but I'm about to turn 62 and for at least 26 years of those I've often watched the nauseating kind of rugby Gatland-coached teams dish out. Just a dumber version of the Boks circa 2007, with weaker players, and that is why he's talking such nonsense now.

What happened to the Welsh clubs after everyone everywhere could officially pay players is perhaps the worst moral lesson we can learn from rugby's transition to professionalism; they didn't do much better than Kiyosaki, but unlike him they don't owe the banks enough to keep their fiction alive.

Gatland reckons, among other things, that the clean catch rule should be scrapped, which will mean the launch of even more hanging balls than is already the case. Furthermore, he wants to limit substitutes, because the poor Welsh hardly have 15 players of Test quality, let alone 23. Actually, he just wants to try to neutralise the Boks.


I don't think there is as much wrong with rugby as all and sundry try to imply. No one who enthuses about how much better it was in the old days has recently watched a whole game from those days.

No, it's videos of highlights from mostly sloppy unstructured play with defence not exactly a high priority. Back then you got such tries as the one Laurika Rauch sings about (it's the first one on this video):

That Laurika's uncle would still talk about it 28 years on indicates its relative rarity.

This more recent one definitely deserves its own tune, but there are few words that rhyme with Kolbe:


I have to add that I'm blown away by the fact that many coaches who make a living from the sport considered Kolbe too small for Test rugby. It's a mindset that needs to change rather than proclaiming that the sport has suddenly become such an eyesore.

The most important difference between rugby league and our 15-man game is that in the latter there must be competition for the ball. And yes, there are rules that, applied correctly, will make the game flow better.

There's no need for novelties like goal-line kickoffs and 50/22 kicks that give the kicker's team the lineout throw-in — all they do is make an already complicated sport even more incomprehensible in exchange for little value added to the spectacle.

To slightly improve the eternal struggle with the scrum, it would help to resume blowing the whistle for crooked put-ins. Getting the hookers involved will cause much of the collapsing and delays to disappear. And that means both teams can compete for the ball, as they should.

Every few years there are calls for scrum halves to put the ball in straight, but time and again the players protest so vociferously about it that World Rugby soon announces a new “interpretation". And the refs turn a blind eye once more.

The rolling maul is a Springbok strength and as such I naturally enjoy it, but they will be able to come up with a different plan. It's obstruction, finish en klaar.

My latest horror is that fashionable loose maul train, where they bind backwards one by one while the scrummy rolls the ball backwards at a snail's pace with his toe. In the wonderland of my dreams, the scrum half has to play the ball as soon as he touches it.

None of this is revolutionary or should be even vaguely controversial — it's all somewhere in the rugby rulebook. Apply these rules consistently and even Ellis Park may one day be full again. To play such beautiful rugby as the Lions in front of so many thousands of empty seats is very sad.


And in conclusion:

♦ VWB ♦

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