Is Scoring Getting Boring)

Is scoring getting boring? You can have too much of a good thing - today's game is more like basketball than rugby. Recently Leicester ran up 37 points, Bristol scored 40,Wasps scored 31.Heavy scoring, blizzards of tries, with the ball almost endlessly in play. And all of those teams lost. Welcome to gaudy sport."

Such was the outcry made recently by the Sunday Times Rugby Union correspondent, Stephen Jones regarding the current prolific points scoring in the 15 a side code at its premier levels. And such is his belief that the scrummaging, the rucks and mauls the lineouts, and the heavy stuff of the forwards can be compelling but is sadly missing in today's matches. Though I can understand the thinking behind Stephen's arguments, in a TV obsessed support for screening sport the scoring of tries, and any particularly spectacular ones, does attract supporters and spectators to both codes of rugby. Indeed the very purpose of scoring tries is to gain a higher number of points to enable a team to win a match. In Rugby Union success at the scrums, lineouts, rucks and mauls is vital but it is the handling and running in open play which is most often needed to gather points and win a game. With two less forwards per team and the removal of contested scrums, lineouts, rucks, and mauls Rugby League is more geared to the scoring of tries via individual or collective running and handling. And yet the coaches of the 13 a side code now appear to be paying far more attention to defence than attack, the result being the low scores and the few tries recorded in the final clashes in the Super League and Championship Leagues this season.

The London Broncos managed to beat the Toronto Wolfpack by just 4pts to 2pts (not a single try scored in the 80 minutes play!) in the recent contest for entry to Super League next season -a match described as a "tight ,tense, and close-fought encounter," in which Danny Ward's Broncos," ground out a famous success thanks to an outstanding defensive effort.". Wigan Warriors, masterly organised by their coach, Shaun Wane, ,before a 64,892 crowd at Old Trafford, Manchester, in the Super League Grand Final, beat the Warrington Wolves by just 12pts to 4ptsThe previous week, in the semi final, the Cherry and Whites beat the Castleford Tiger by 14pts to nil. One hundred and sixty minutes play  and only one try conceded!

Stephen Jones might see his wish for the scoring of less tries and points in major Rugby Union matches realised now that Shaun Wane has left his post at Wigan for pastures new, as Defence Coach for Scotland RU. As William Shakespeare didn't say..."To score tries or not to score tries, that is the question,".   

Ray French

October 2018