‘I love watching bone-shuddering tackles, monster ball carries and crushingly intense scrummaging’


All of these little tweaks to the rules of rugby require some thought. Regarding the latest scrum modifications, I still have a bit of reading and thinking to do, but I instinctively feel that it is the next step in the systematic dismantling and eventual dilution of one of the most famous – and certainly the most unique – aspects of our great sport.

As with any “new” law, there will be ways to manipulate things for unintended advantages, but the extent of such manipulation cannot be known until paid game thinkers take the time to find an angle.

The game and its curators must of course always keep in mind its potential appeal to new viewers and stakeholders, but I've felt for some time that the game itself – specifically 'here' in the UK – may be spending too much money. It's time to try to convince the world that it's everyone's game.

Rugby is not a game for everyone and it never will be. It's so hard to be a game for everyone. Rugby at all levels requires courage, and with courageous endeavor comes pride, kinship, joy, loyalty and inclusion that comes from facing difficult things with groups of friends and overcoming them together, forming bonds along the way. By the way, football, the great beast of global sport, is by no means a game for everyone.

Rugby at its best is an exciting, pulse-pounding game but it's not for everyone (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Rugby is always going to be a bit dangerous. It has to be that way and we have to stop apologizing for it. Like it or not – and some people never will – taking risks is part of the magic of rugby. We should of course never stop investing time and money into making it as safe as possible, but the idea of ​​making a toy full of ballistic collisions a safe toy is illogical and unrealistic.

Watch some Australian Rugby League matches. Watch some of the South African teams play each other on South African TV, and you'll see that we push the idea of ​​'player safety' harder than any other team. To some extent, this is a valiant effort of course, but I can tell you that we are now at a point where the broadcasters you love the most – and the ones you don't! – Every other sentence is often prefaced with “Obviously player safety is of the utmost importance” as if on autopilot, before moving on to actually giving a presentation. In fact, we feel like we have to, because we all now unconsciously fear the abuse that might come our way if we don't speak up. Simply.

Before I get predictably accused in the comments section of being a casual ex-pro who thinks the game has become weak (for the record, I don't think so; I think the game is so much harder than it was even a decade ago that I played it regularly) I find myself opening up to what… Contributed by modern players now on the field), Let me tell you that I have days when I forget things, when I get inexplicably irritable, when I feel sluggish and procrastinate, when I'm short on time for a to-do list that seems completely insurmountable.

Rugby pigeons
Rugby produces kinship and bonds that can last a lifetime (Photo by Patrick Khachevi/Getty Images)

Like many of my contemporaries, I'm internally crossing my fingers that my brain isn't so damaged that it starts to fail, and that I'll actually get to see and enjoy my little girls becoming women. So I'm not suggesting we promote dangerous hits, or that we stop talking about keeping players as safe as possible.

What I'm suggesting is that we stop trying to be everyone's best mate. Rugby is incredibly tough. You have to be a certain person to play it. You must be elusive, skillful, strong, and flexible. If not, he can teach you. Rugby has a huge amount to offer, and celebrating those life-affirming aspects of a great game might seem like a better path to growth than acting like a bunch of advocates who are literally afraid to stand up for what we believe in and what we love.

There is no need to be afraid to say what we think. I don't really want anyone to get hurt, but I accept that it may happen. I felt the same about myself as a player.

Courtney Rules
Player welfare is paramount but injury is inevitable in contact sports (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

I love watching the horrific tackles, the brutal takedowns, the brutal tackles, and the crushingly intense chases. I love him. These things make your heart rate go up. These aren't the only things I like about rugby, but I don't feel the need to pretend I don't like it, or apologize for loving it in case someone thinks I don't like it.

All this constant tweaking of the rules, although well intentioned, may serve to overcomplicate the game even more (more things for the average viewer to learn) and give the impression that there is a sport, however desperate, to take over the world and reap all the riches that come with it. With that expansion, it's not exactly comfortable in itself.





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