Clamouring For Change

Be careful what you wish for: you might just get it…

The thing rugby fans most often herald as the reason they value rugby over any other team sport is the diversity inherent to the game. It draws on many different types of people to play it, but it also appeals to a wide variety of fans. The game is watched over by different types of official, they are in turn watched over by other officials with varying roles and responsibilities and there is an inherent respect for all involved.

We can tend to inveigle fans into ‘rugby’ talk, everyone gets caught fawning about how great the game is and ignores the faults within, but maybe this is one of the good things about the game? Cynicism can be brushed aside through debate and friendly discussion. Arguments rarely solve anything and more often than not argument is in cause of defending one’s own selfish claims.

Sure some may sneer at the “isn’t everything wonderful?!” approach of a movement like #RugbyUnited, but hey, at least someone is trying to create an international platform, right?

Through such conduits people can talk about issues facing the global game, and with a global public sphere it is possible to dialectically solve issues: or at least propose solutions.

Look at the ‘Save Our Scrums’ campaign started via talkSPORT’s rugby show, and spread throughout social media sites, generating copy as it went. This movement followed the notion that the contemporary scrum was one prone to collapse and that referees are at a loss to command the scrummage or interpret the flaws within the set-piece. It followed a report by a group of ex-international front-rowers sent to the IRB about how best to strip away aspects of the instructions of ‘crouch….touch….pause……..engage’  and how to ensure player safety.

In a short space of time more voices have come into the discussion. Some blurted more than neatly presented, it must be said, and the credence of certain media outlets may be undermined by opting for argument over discussion, but the value is still there: the points are all valid and need to be considered. A marriage between campaigns and promoted through #RugbyUnited could only bring more scrutiny to an area of play many want considered.

There is something to this. Change can happen if enough voices join the chorus, and the IRB are competent enough to eventually pay attention. The discussion on scrums has warbled on for a few years now and the feeling is that the law makers and enforcers are about to seriously consider change. It would be impossible to be  surprised if in the coming months  new experimental scrummaging laws were rolled out in lower leagues.

Dissent can be noted and changes proposed, but interpretation lies with the experts. If new laws are considered, which it is likely they will be at some point, then patience is needed. Tolerance is part of the unspoken credo in the much promulgated game of rugby. Taking time over any issues is a must in order to get it right. The voices don’t have to stop whilst this is going on anyway.

Once the scrum is sorted, though, could someone say something about the rate at which players are diving off their feet at breakdowns at every level, please? Cheers…

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.

3 comments on “Clamouring For Change

  1. A.D. on

    Nice, James. Any unions, businesses or campaigns tried to align themselves with you?
    Also, in the interest of good sportmanship anything in the rules you think needs changed?

    Like most people I’d assume those behind Rugby Code see England and Lancaster dropping Danny Care after a drink driving offence and think, “that’s it, blip over, back to common sense and promoting the right message again”.

  2. James Maclean on

    A few of the big unions have given us shout outs on Facebook and Twitter but what has really surprised me is the amount of non-traditional fans and unions interacting with us. Over half of all our members are from outside the top 10 ranked nations.
    Almost a thousand are from just the US, Germany and Croatia which I think is incredibly exciting and speaks volumes about how the ethos of the sport resonates outside of the traditional heartlands.

    It would be great if we could get some support from players or businesses but thus far it’s been about building the facebook group and now page.

    As far as causes are concerned we launched a petition to get Japan to either host the 1015 or 2019 World Cup hosting. Not sure if it had a huge effect but there were quite a few thousand signatures.

    It’s difficult, personally I don’t think laws and legislation have a huge effect on behaviour, rugby has always been self regulating. For instance, despite being an incredibly violent sport we never see violence spill out into the stands.

    I don’t think the banning of Danny Care changes anything. It’s a start but there are plenty of other players who have been misbehaving over the past 6 months. Of course they’re young blokes with a lot of money and exposure but personally, if playing for Scotland meant I had to give up the strong stuff then I would in heartbeat.

    Plenty of players can handle their drink so I don’t think it has to come to banning booze but if they can’t handle it, ala Care and Guildford, then the coach should give them a straight choice between the game and the drink.

    I think the senior players also have a big responsibility to pull the young ones into line. Bar Tindall (who in my option didn’t do too much wrong) all of the other WC misdemeanour’s were committed by young players.

    There will always be controversies but it would be great if we could all strive to maintain the ethos of the sport.

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