Keith Nicholls
Keith Nicholls

‘There’s nothing wrong with the game’

So, now that an Aussie has helped us in our World Cup endeavours, it’s probably not bad form to agree with that Aussie when he says something worth listening to.

In the aftermath of the World Cup, much has been said and written about the final as a spectacle, specifically portraying it as a drab, try-less affair, bad for the game of rugby.

Any sour grapes there? Probably.

England got to the final by playing percentage rugby, and South Africa won the final playing a no-risk game. And there doesn’t seem to be too much of an outcry in either country.

Well, what has old Eddie said, against the backdrop of the criticism of the World Cup final, that was worth agreeing with?

“There’s nothing wrong with the game,” Jones was reported as saying this week. “We’ve had some fantastic games at the World Cup and we’ve had some arm wrestles at the World Cup, but when you’re playing for a big prize you’re going to play quite simple rugby.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

“In Europe, they don’t care about the way rugby’s played. If it’s fast and it’s free, that’s good. If it’s tight and grinding, that’s good. The crowds at the World Cup were enormous.”

And that’s very true. The matches were well attended by crowds that seemed to enjoy whatever rugby spectacle was served up.

One of the very attractions of rugby is its variety. In my opinion, a low-scoring forward battle of attrition can be just as rewarding as a fast-paced, free-flowing spectacle.

Funny how no one slammed the type of rugby played in the Ireland-Georgia match as being bad for the game. As far as I remember, much of the excitement of the game stemmed from Georgia’s forward mauling, pinning Ireland to their line while trying to grind out a win. Although tries were scored, it wasn’t the flowing game that critics of the final have been calling for.

And it was undoubtedly one of the best games of the tournament.

I also recall a few seasons ago that there was criticism of the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby for being too much of a running game — candyfloss rugby with no substance. Now the criticism seems to have shifted, and a game of substance and toil is bad for rugby.

Post-World Cup sour grapes? Probably

But winning rugby is what matters at the end of the day. And South Africa is smiling.

And while we’re busy agreeing with good old Eddie, we might as well mention that Bok backline.

For the first time in a long time our backline showed snatches of what it’s capable of in scoring some good tries from structured play.

And Eddie got these tangible results in just a few weeks with the team.

You’ve got to ask yourself what the Bok backline coaches have been doing for the past few years.