!EnglishRugbyTeam.wins(worldcupFinal, 2007)

October 21, 2007 at 8:00 am | Posted in Sporting Event | Leave a comment
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I got up at 8:00am to watch the live telecast of the England vs South Africa Rugby World Cup Final – The game I watched pretty much met my expectations.

Oct 21, 2007 by Show_Hanger

England 6 – South Africa 15

It was a typical game of finals rugby – everything to play for and everything to loose. So, it was not surprising to see a 10-man game. The game was a demonstration of defence and forward-play. There was very little running of the ball out wide. This was a kind of rugby that you seldom see – 80 minutes of controlled forward aggression – combined with the tactical and strategic thinking you normally associate with chess.

Most rugby games at this level is founded on achieving forward dominance – this leads to pocession of the ball and quality ball for backline options. Neither the English, nor the South African forwards truly gained dominance; so the whole game was spent trying to do so. To do anything else invited disaster; and both sides were playing percentage rugby – it was the world cup final.

The South African forwards matched the English forwards in the scrums, ‘rucks’ and mauls. They dominated the line-outs, and I think this explains why South Africa won. Both sides played great defence and so there were few line breaks. But the line-out dominace probably gave South Africa slightly more pocession at key times and more time-and-control to force errors from the English. These errors translated into penalties – yes, another tryless final.

So hats off to both the South African and English forwards. The purests in the northern hemisphere got the kind of final they have alwats wanted. Us southern hemisphere types got to see a tight final.

South Africa always looked slightly more in control – they led for the whole game. England were forced to play a waiting game – stay in touch and create something at the end. It was almost like watching a basketball match where the winning team is able to use up time and manage pocsssion so as to be in a position to score the last points, and gift the ball back to the opposition who have no time to score (or if they score, still be behind).

Both teams played for field postion and then contrive a situation where the referee will see some infingement and award them a penalty. South Africa did this better and won; their lineout dominace gave them slightly better pocession and so were able to put England under more pressure.

It was a game where the referee – unconciously – decided who won. I say this not in a negative sense. Rugby is such a complicated game with regard to obstruction and ‘contact’ that you can give away a penalty just standing still – this is exactly what happen late in the second half. Cueto ran into a South Africa loose forward on a kick-and-chase. So the team that wrong foots the opposition, or rushes them, can get a penalty. From the point of view of the players – good on them, they had more control of the ball and so were rewarded.

South Africa are worthy winners: they showed that they can play the expansive game; make few errors; able to fice and captialise on the opposition’s erros, have a good forward unit; have a great line out; and held their compose in some tight games.

England should not feel too bad. They made it to the finals, when on form they should not have – they have a 54% loss rate since 2003! They made it to the finals and 18 other teams did not.

0.3

So one way or another, the officials decided the winner. Stu Dickinson’s decision to disallow the try was hugely influential, and has draw some negative reaction from the English fans. Even in slow motion it was not a clear decision. Why it was required a video decision is also unclear; the linesman was right there, why didn’t he make an instant ruling ? It is a game played, watched and afficiated by humans.

If you can’t rely on the linesman standing at the corner looking down the line, why not have a video official rule on the run of play that led up to every try – then the French would not have been awarded a try from a forward pass!

I have to say something about the modern ‘ruck’. Boy these are silly. Even though you cannot use your hands in the ruck – everyone does. How many times did the halfback reach in to the ruck and pull the ball out ? How many times did a mysterious hand pass him the ball from inside the pile-up ? If the last man in the ruck unbinds and picks up the ball, why are not all the players on the ground infront of him allowed to obstruct ? How come the side with the ball is allowed to stand players alongside the ruck in positions such that it would be a forward pass if the half back were to pass them the ball ? Bring back the boot I say !

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