Guinness Premiership: The ELV's Are Not the Problem

Sean KellyAnalyst IOctober 2, 2008


When two giant teams like Leicester and Wasps go head to head, you expect a brave encounter high scoring, or at least quality play and with both teams giving their all.

I'm afraid this was not the case when they both met at Adams Park last Friday.

Never have I seen two top Premiership sides so afraid to attack. Neither side played with any imagination both choosing to kick for territory and deciding to keep the ball wound up in the arms of the forwards. Instead of playing the rugby we know both sides are capable of playing.

Ian McGeechan was quick to jump on the bandwagon of other coaches and journalists alike who have been too hasty to criticise the new rules, blaming them for their sides defeats or poor performances.

"You can't afford to play in your own half and I think Leicester adopted the same principles as we did by trying to keep it tight."

Leicester coach Heyneke Meyer refused to add to the already vast complaints about the ELV's, but did however criticise his sides and his opponents tactics by kicking the ball too much.

"The difference between the two sides tonight was that when they got into our half, they punished us by kicking their goals."

I really do not believe the problem with the game in England at the moment is to do with the new law variations.

I will not lie, when first mentioned I was not a fan of the decision to change a game that really didn't have many problems anyway (why try and fix something that isn't really broken). The only point I agreed with was to keep players on their feet at the contact area.

But now hearing these coaches moan isn't doing much more for the game.

The main reason we haven't seen these ELV's flourish is because of peoples negative attitudes towards the law variations.

When up against strong opposition, teams are scared to run from deep in case of the inevitable turn over, leaving a game controlled by the boot which no one wants to watch.

The loyal Guinness premiership fans do not wish to turn up to see their loved side have an 80 minute long kick about.

The possibilities of counter attacks have become more likely with these laws, as has the likelihood of seeing running rugby. For teams to be scared into a forwards contest is ridiculous and surely an opposite upshot of the experimental law variations introduction.

Especially seeing as we are trying to sell this game as an exciting sport. So that we can finally go head to head with football as the dominant sport of the country.

Bath have still continuously been applauded for their running rugby. Rugby that has seen the Rec been serenaded. This is because they have taken the ELV's into account and used them to their advantage.

"Looking at the ELVs without putting my defence coach hat on, I think that some have had a really positive influence on the game.

"For example, the five-metre defence line at a scrum gives a great opportunity for back-row moves and space for the scrum-half to challenge the defensive line.

"That is an area that Bath have certainly looked at and it has created the space necessary for a number of strong first-phase attacking moves," said Bath's attack coach Brad Davis.

As well as the potentials for attacks off the scrum, Bath have used the five metre lineout rule to their advantage. Being able to throw the ball backwards for a quick throw in allows the likes of Joe Maddock, Nick Abendanon and Matt Banahan to show their attacking credentials.

Brad Davis also recognises the problem of congestion at the breakdown.

"I think the breakdown plan—trying to keep players on their feet—that is something that could potentially be a real benefit, but there is a big responsibility for coaches and players to actually keep working on that in the training ground environment so that a couple of years down the line, that will become second nature."

I don’t understand why Bath have chose to use this play to compliment their already positive free-flowing rugby, and others haven’t.

Originally meant for a positive outcome we have seen the opportunities given to these sides wasted and disregarded.

Something given to coaches as a luxury has been ungratefully thrown back in the IRB's faces.

Kicking is still the main source of points for the majority of premiership sides. Something that seriously needs to be addressed. The

It seems more worth while to change the point scoring system—by making tries more valuable and taking down the value of penalties to a mere one point.

If you ask me it was about time someone stuck their boot into the main problem.