Is rugby turning into the NFL?
That would be the observation of more than a few, as even the best referees in the world deal with a set of laws so complex that there is simply no way for the game to have any flow.
Teams do seem intent on keeping the ball in play, stringing together long sequences and maintain the flow of action, but the level of reviews, replays and questions and discussions amongst the three officials has risen to the level of absurdity.
Many rugby fans might not know this, but in the NFL, where games are contested for 60 minutes, those sixty minutes span almost four hours of real time. If one were to start a stopwatch when play commenced, stop the stopwatch when a referee’s whistle signaled the end of a play, and then total the actual playing time, it would be discovered that an NFL contest is actually six to 10 minutes long.
Rugby does not want to follow that route. One practice that needs to stop immediately is that of players adjudicating on the field and approaching the referees in an attempt to manipulate those referees’ decisions.
To accomplish that, some radical measures might need to take place.
All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen, as long as three years ago, feeling a sense of exasperation over the pace of play, called for the rule book to be scrapped and replaced entirely. That idea was widely seconded by other coaches, including Rod Macqueen, Bob Dwyer, to name two.
Hansen’s call for upheaval certainly will see more support following the All Blacks Test series with the British and Irish Lions when the decider ended in a drawn game, which produced a drawn series.
The scenario is that last game was so bizarre as to almost defy description. The decision making of Romain Poite in the dying stages of the series decider, despite assistance from his touchjudges and others, to change his ruling on an offside is inexplicably baffling.