Perhaps a little controversial, but I think it’s time to bring back rucking, for the good of the game:
a) The removal of rucking didn’t even make sense. What were the IRB trying to achieve? Were they trying to make the game more friendly, or less violent, perhaps attract more players? Was rucking really putting that many people off? Players take to the field every week knowing they have a good chance of breaking a bone, or even their neck, yet they took away rucking which just leaves flesh wounds and broken fingers?
b) Removing rucking just introduced a cheat’s charter. There’s no incentive to not smother the ball, or slow it down with hands on ball in the ruck, when near your try line and it looks like the opposition is going to score. Giving away a penalty (and perhaps, if you’re that close to the line, a sin binning) is a better alternative to conceding a try. Rucking removes this: who in their right mind is going to smother when they know they’re going to get rucked to shreds? Once rucked, never returned!
c) The lack of rucking is favouring a boring game. I was at the recent match between Australia and Scotland. It was fucking boring: the only redeeming feature was the relatively exciting end, but for 70 minutes, I wish I’d never left the house. Similarly, I’ve all but given up watching England. I didn’t see the Ireland v. South Africa match, but I heard that was terrible too. Lack of rucking’s slowing the game down, as players are smothering ball, and not quickly moving away from the tackle site is favouring kicking for territory rather than a running game. Zzzz.
d) The laws surrounding the ruck have become completely byzantine, and stoppages are made every 2 seconds. I play every week, and even I can’t work out why the game is stopped in the ruck half the time. Bring back rucking, and allow the opposition to ruck hands off the ball, and so on, instead of stopping the game every other second.
e) To pre-empt opposition: reintroducing rucking needn’t mean rucking in the face or groin has to be allowed, nor stamping on hands, faces, legs etc. We allow tackling without allowing high or otherwise dangerous tackling. Besides, if you’re really playing against a psychopath, laws against rucking are barely going to matter.
f) At least at the amateur level, enforcement is already patchy. Some weeks we get older referees who allow rucking, the next few weeks, we get ones who blow up and sin bin straight away. Make it uniform, and bring rucking back.
g) Audiences prefer a more physical game: they enjoy the big hits. There’d be nothing better than watching a cheat being rucked to shreds.
Is there anybody who disagrees?