A rethink's needed
ANOTHER weekend, and another win for the southern hemisphere teams over the teams from the north.
This is getting monotonous, and I don't necessarily mean in consistent victories.
But I simply can't believe the importance kicking has at the international level.
The three Tests played over the weekend, Australia v Wales, All Blacks v Ireland and South Africa v England, were fairly good games of footy.
But kicking, whether it be in general play, field goals, penalties or drop goals, played far too much of a role.
The All Blacks, for example had three field goal shots.
That's three too many, for me.
I'm not totally against field goals, but it's too easy an avenue to accumulation of points.
And it's the same with the penalty goal.
I'm not against them, but it's far too easy to have a shot.
And I've said it before, there is not enough of a difference between the points gained by field goals and penalties, and by tries.
There is simply not enough of an incentive to go for the try.
That's why we consistently have teams taking shots at goal and field goals from 50m out.
And that's when punters switch the channel, and don't return.
The game has to either reduce the amount of points allotted to field goals and penalty goals or increase the points for scoring a try.
The major issue I have with the incentive regime as it stands is that it reduces the potential of our players, coaches and the game itself.
How exciting would rugby be if attack was the only way to win footy games?
How much more creative, and skilful would our players and coaches be if attack was the primary method to get out of tough situations and build up pressure on the opposition?
How much more advanced would our defensive work be when teams' attack has improved immeasurably?
Quite often our international games resemble shot-at-goal competitions, with some attack and defence added on.
If you were new to the game, you could justifiably assume that every element of the game - scrums, rucks, general play, players and referees - were there to generate kicking-at-goal opportunities.
A primary example of this are stoppages for shots at goal from even as far away as 50m.
And why wouldn't you when you can generate three points from the easy option?
I can talk forever about rugby's incentive regime and its negative impact on the game and its players.
An open and exciting game of international rugby is exceptional, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
That's possibly a bit harsh, but it's what should be rugby's primary promotional tool.
Tests, are diluted entertainment spectacles as kicking takes a primary role.
And that's a real disappointment for us punters.
Rugby, from the top tier to the community game, suffers as a result.
AUSTRALIA 25 (Rob Horne try; Berrick Barnes conversion, five penalties, Michael Harris penalty)
WALES 23 (Jonathan Davies, George North tries; Leigh Halfpenny two conversions, three penalties) at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on Saturday.
SOUTH AFRICA 36 (Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, JP Pietersen tries; Morne Steyn two conversions, three penalties and drop goal)
ENGLAND 27 (Toby Flood, Ben Youngs (2) tries; Flood three conversions ,two penalties) at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on Saturday.
NEW ZEALAND 22 (Aaron Smith try; Dan Carter conversion, 4 penalties, drop goal)
IRELAND 19 (Conor Murray try; Jonathan Sexton conversion, four penalties) at AMI Stadium, Christchurch on Saturday
ARGENTINA 23 (Belisario Agulla, Manuel Montero tries; Felipe Contepomi two conversions, three penalties)
FRANCE 20 (Louis Picamoles try; Morgan Parra (4), Francois Trinh-Duc penalties) at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes in Córdoba on Saturday.
SCOTLAND 37 (Creig Laidlaw, penalty try, TimVisser (2) tries; Laidlaw three conversions, three penalties)
FIJI 25 (Josefa Domolailai, Waisea Nayacalevu, Metuisela Talebula tries; Jonetani Ralulu two conversions, two penalties) in Lautoka, Fiji on Saturday
Saturday: Samoa v Scotland in Apia, Australia v Wales in Sydney, New Zealand v Ireland in Hamilton, South Africa v England in Durban.
Sunday: Argentina v France in Tucuman