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Rugby’s echo chamber

  • 15-02-2021 2:11pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 85 ✭✭ thehairygrape


    A bit of context. I come from a GAA background, but am a bit sports mad in general. I’d follow almost any sport, especially one involving an Irish sports person or team. I’ve always followed Rugby and have attended school’s matches, club games, Munster matches and the few internationals I was able to get tickets for. So, I’m well disposed towards the game.

    A few observations after two weekends of watching the tv coverage.

    1. The matches are boring. Bar the odd outbreak of a bit of flair, you have large, overmuscled men crashing in to each other until they get tired and then a scrum half kicks the ball away and on they go. The game was invented for Englishprivate school boys, but has evolved into an overly defensive bore fest dominated by bulk and muscle rather than flair and skill. I’m sure this is fascinating to those involved in the game, especially coaches, but it’s not a great watch for the rest of us.

    2. Because the game is now so defense driven, the analysis is almost incomprehensible. At half time on Virgin media, Ronan O’Gara might as well have been speaking Swahili for all the sense he made to me. Now, I’m a great admirer of Ronan for all he’s achieved both on and off the pitch, but who exactly was he addressing? Other coaches, that’s who. The rest of us were lost. Virgin hardly helped by not providing clips to illustrate the, no doubt excellent, points he was making. Matt Williams and Eoin Redden were not much better. If it’s so technical that it can’t be explained relatively easily then something’s gone wrong somewhere. I love watching a good analyst explaining some technical aspect of a sport. What I’m watching on all channels in relation Rugby is just not explaining anything. A long way from ‘pull like a dog’ of the O’Donovan Brothers.

    Just a few thoughts. I’ll still watch the games and hope Ireland win their next three matches. I’d just worry that the sport won’t grow beyond their own echo chamber. Just look at the number of school kids in Limerick wearing GAA jerseys and start worrying.


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Comments

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,364 CMod ✭✭✭✭ awec


    Closing this for now.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,364 CMod ✭✭✭✭ awec


    Thread reopened again after discussion with the OP and an adjustment to some content. Please be constructive.


  • Registered Users Posts: 149 ✭✭ joficeduns1


    You're points are certainly valid for some games being defensive heavy. That's just part of the game now for some teams/coaches. There's good in it too though.

    I'm not a fan of Virgin's coverage. I've been watching ITV or BBC where possible now. Much better production value.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,552 ✭✭✭✭ Pudsy33


    I love O'Gara's analysis, he explains the intricacies of the game far better than anyone else in Irish media. I appreciate that it might be tough going for the average viewer, but I'd take it over Quinlan or Williams any day of the week.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,364 CMod ✭✭✭✭ awec


    Pudsy33 wrote: »
    I love O'Gara's analysis, he explains the intricacies of the game far better than anyone else in Irish media. I appreciate that it might be tough going for the average viewer, but I'd take it over Quinlan or Williams any day of the week.

    Sometimes, but there was a point yesterday when O'Gara was talking about -1 and -2 defenders etc and it was a bit anorak-ish, like a Murray Kinsella article.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,795 ✭✭✭ Digifriendly


    Scotland Vs Wales was not a boring game by any stretch of the imagination but it has been the exception. I am a rugby union fan first and foremost above all other sports but I found Wales vs Ireland and Ireland vs France quite boring apart from last few minutes of both. Rules do need to be looked at otherwise we won't win any new fans in foreeable future.

    As I can only get VM on SD here in N. Ireland I always watch either BBC or ITV for 6N in HD. SD quality on VM is particularly poor so I'm missing ROG's comments. I think BBC/ITV pundits are pretty good and not too technical on the whole.

    Limerick - now a decent Gaelic football side as well as hurling so your observation is timely. What will interest me most as a rugby fan is when this present pandemic (and with it crowd restrictions) are over will we see a gallop back through the turnstiles at e.g. Thomond Park or will some fans be lost to the game for good?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,364 CMod ✭✭✭✭ awec


    On the entertainment part, I think for a while test rugby turned into a percentage game of playing low-risk rugby to avoid making mistakes and it that made it a bit harder to watch. Don't play in your own half, don't offload etc.


  • Subscribers Posts: 36,227 ✭✭✭✭ sydthebeat


    It was said before (i thin by bernard jackman) that its the job of the co-commentators in a game to describe what was happening to the layperson. I think the likes of Jackman and Toland are quite good at breaking down plays into their very basics . Toland will often say "now watch number X here, hes going to do Y in order to get the opposition do Z" and when it happens its clear why. Jackman is a bluffer at higher levels but explaining the game at the basics heres quite good IMHO.

    O Gara is a completely different kettle of fish.
    Hes a guy whos very measured in what he says and when hes describing plays he has seen things that a lot of fervent fans wouldn't, therefore using phrases like "the minus 2 defender" and stuff like that.
    Yes its very specialised, but i would argue for lay people fans virgin have matt williams, so its nice to have someone like o gara offering insights for the more experienced fan.

    as for the game play, i completely agree with you. The laws have been altered so that it hugely favours the defence and a lot of time its better to play without the ball than with... thus you see so much kicking.

    you will often hear that it looks like they play a different game in the southern hemisphere , as games tend to be a lot more open and the style of play a lot more exciting and opportunistic. I believe that comes down to mindset. The biggest NH leagues have relegation therefore coaches are thinking about not losing first and foremost. set pieces like the scrum are viewed as a way to win a penalty rather than a way to create space that you might see more down south. You also have better basic skills in general in the SH, with only perhaps france having the flair and gall to play away from contact and keep the ball alive. The 4 home nations have always been rather brawn over brain focused in the professional era.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,552 ✭✭✭✭ Pudsy33


    I think rule changes are needed, I'll be watching the 50/22 trial in Aus with particular interest. I think something dramatic like this is required, I don't think more breakdown changes will solve anything.


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,225 ✭✭✭✭ Venjur


    I like GAA. I like Rugby. They are different. Different is good.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,150 ✭✭✭ TheCitizen


    Some good points from the op. Soccer is my game but I always watch the rugby internationals especially.

    The flair from backs and enterprising running rugby from years ago seems to be gone. The French were famous for it when they had players like Blanco. The Welsh always had genius out halves. The game doesn't produce players like Campese anymore. It's all about braun now big lumps on God knows what supplements battering each other for 60 minutes and then replaced by other similar lumps to continue the process. The back lines get nowhere most of the time with defenders in their faces whenever they try to pass and run the ball.

    Not a rugby expert but I reckon they need to make some major rules changes to benefit attacking running rugby.

    The op is also correct about his echo chamber remark. Rugby people don't like it when people from other sports make points about the game of rugby.


  • Subscribers Posts: 36,227 ✭✭✭✭ sydthebeat


    Pudsy33 wrote: »
    I think rule changes are needed, I'll be watching the 50/22 trial in Aus with particular interest. I think something dramatic like this is required, I don't think more breakdown changes will solve anything.

    i think the 50/22 plus the offside line being properly policed would make a big difference to attacking play.

    id even be on for there having to be daylight between the ruck and the defensive line like 1 meter away from the pillar defenders


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,364 CMod ✭✭✭✭ awec


    sydthebeat wrote: »
    It was said before (i thin by bernard jackman) that its the job of the co-commentators in a game to describe what was happening to the layperson. I think the likes of Jackman and Toland are quite good at breaking down plays into their very basics . Toland will often say "now watch number X here, hes going to do Y in order to get the opposition do Z" and when it happens its clear why. Jackman is a bluffer at higher levels but explaining the game at the basics heres quite good IMHO.

    O Gara is a completely different kettle of fish.
    Hes a guy whos very measured in what he says and when hes describing plays he has seen things that a lot of fervent fans wouldn't, therefore using phrases like "the minus 2 defender" and stuff like that.
    Yes its very specialised, but i would argue for lay people fans virgin have matt williams, so its nice to have someone like o gara offering insights for the more experienced fan.

    as for the game play, i completely agree with you. The laws have been altered so that it hugely favours the defence and a lot of time its better to play without the ball than with... thus you see so much kicking.

    you will often hear that it looks like they play a different game in the southern hemisphere , as games tend to be a lot more open and the style of play a lot more exciting and opportunistic. I believe that comes down to mindset. The biggest NH leagues have relegation therefore coaches are thinking about not losing first and foremost. set pieces like the scrum are viewed as a way to win a penalty rather than a way to create space that you might see more down south. You also have better basic skills in general in the SH, with only perhaps france having the flair and gall to play away from contact and keep the ball alive. The 4 home nations have always been rather brawn over brain focused in the professional era.

    I think this has improved in recent years thanks to the new laws and referees telling players to use it if the ball is at the back before collapse happens.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,552 ✭✭✭✭ Pudsy33


    sydthebeat wrote: »
    i think the 50/22 plus the offside line being properly policed would make a big difference to attacking play.

    id even be on for there having to be daylight between the ruck and the defensive line like 1 meter away from the pillar defenders

    You're dead right on offside, the way it is policed currently is awful. The 1m idea is a good shout.

    Are the touch judges supposed to be focusing on this?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,013 ✭✭✭ irelandrover


    TheCitizen wrote: »

    The op is also correct about his echo chamber remark. Rugby people don't like it when people from other sports make points about the game of rugby.

    Go into any sports forum and tell them their game is boring, their team are terrible and see how you get on.

    The soccer forum have a post count requirement before you can post for reasons like that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 719 ✭✭✭ Hesh's Umpire


    I'm completely from another sporting background.

    Gaelic football is my number one sport by miles. And by golly it can be an atrocious game to watch at times. No disputing that.

    It's probably something to do with only remembering the good parts of childhood but when I was a kid and teenager, I loved watching rugby. It seemed a great sport.

    But honestly I find most rugby games hard to watch these days. The OP covered most of what I would think about it. Over the weekend I saw a few minutes of the England Italy game but that's all. 30 years ago I would have watched all three games. To be fair, maybe there's so much choice on TV these days (sport and otherwise). 30 years ago I probably had only a few channels.

    Can't comment on the analysts. That's the time to make tea or grab another drink! (for all sports)


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,150 ✭✭✭ TheCitizen


    Go into any sports forum and tell them their game is boring, their team are terrible and see how you get on.

    The soccer forum have a post count requirement before you can post for reasons like that.

    That's probably true but in the case of soccer, that game is still producing flair players. All games evolve but in the case of rugby it seems to have evolved to lessen the impact of creative players with defences and defensive play winning out.

    The echo chamber being defensive about any observations from others doesn't help.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,757 ✭✭✭ Hurrache


    I find soccer incredibly boring, feic all happens in them bar a bit of play acting in order to cheat the ref, but there you go.
    The Scotland/Wales game the weekend just gone was pretty entertaining and exciting, and even the Ireland game wasn't the worse


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,013 ✭✭✭ irelandrover


    TheCitizen wrote: »
    That's probably true but in the case of soccer, that game is still producing flair players. All games evolve but in the case of rugby it seems to have evolved to lessen the impact of creative players with defences and defensive play winning out.

    The echo chamber being defensive about any observations from others doesn't help.

    Rugby still produces flair players. I watch both sports. Most games at the very top in both are tight affairs.

    Watch pro14 and you will see a lot more free running and offloads than you would at international.

    Look at the games between the top 6 in the premier league. they are quite often borefests as well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,150 ✭✭✭ TheCitizen


    Hurrache wrote: »
    I find soccer incredibly boring, feic all happens in them bar a bit of play acting in order to cheat the ref, but there you go.
    The Scotland/Wales game the weekend just gone was pretty entertaining and exciting, and even the Ireland game wasn't the worse

    The Ireland game was very poor standard. Error strewn, unforced errors from both sides meant the game was tight on then scoreboard as a contest. Maybe Covid has had a bigger impact on rugby than other sports with training prohibited ? It was very poor stuff.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,364 CMod ✭✭✭✭ awec


    This isn't a rugby vs soccer vs GAA discussion, please don't go down that road.


  • Subscribers Posts: 36,227 ✭✭✭✭ sydthebeat


    TheCitizen wrote: »
    That's probably true but in the case of soccer, that game is still producing flair players. All games evolve but in the case of rugby it seems to have evolved to lessen the impact of creative players with defences and defensive play winning out.

    The echo chamber being defensive about any observations from others doesn't help.

    the 4 home nations national level soccer teams are horrible to watch.
    similar to rugby there's a dearth of basic skills


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,009 ✭✭✭ leakyboots


    sydthebeat wrote: »
    It was said before (i thin by bernard jackman) that its the job of the co-commentators in a game to describe what was happening to the layperson. I think the likes of Jackman and Toland are quite good at breaking down plays into their very basics . Toland will often say "now watch number X here, hes going to do Y in order to get the opposition do Z" and when it happens its clear why. Jackman is a bluffer at higher levels but explaining the game at the basics heres quite good IMHO.

    O Gara is a completely different kettle of fish.
    Hes a guy whos very measured in what he says and when hes describing plays he has seen things that a lot of fervent fans wouldn't, therefore using phrases like "the minus 2 defender" and stuff like that.
    Yes its very specialised, but i would argue for lay people fans virgin have matt williams, so its nice to have someone like o gara offering insights for the more experienced fan.

    Very good point on Toland. I know he's not a favourite on here (and definitely not one of mine) but he does make a concerted effort to explain some of the intricacies of the game to the lay person, I'd noticed that about him (in between the inanity)

    Matt Williams says everything with such emphasis and conviction the whole time it's gas, even if it doesn't need it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 804 ✭✭✭ hahashake


    Hurrache wrote: »
    I find soccer incredibly boring, feic all happens in them bar a bit of play acting in order to cheat the ref, but there you go.
    The Scotland/Wales game the weekend just gone was pretty entertaining and exciting, and even the Ireland game wasn't the worse

    Take away the context/stakes and a lot of popular sport is dull, or at least doesn't stand on its own as entertainment - bar highlight reel moments. With context however, it can be enthralling - but that context has to be earned by time and public interest.

    The problem for a sport like rugby is that it wants to grow or at the very least maintain its market share, however it can't do that without improving the sport itself (in my opinion).

    It isn't a monolith like association football/soccer that can churn out mediocre games between top teams that their own diehard fans will decry as dull but still watch because of the history and meaning that it brings to them. A 0-0 draw still has a meaning in the context of a season, which has context for a team that has existed for 100+ years and is followed globally.

    Purists don't want any major changes but rugby has always had major changes, it has changed far more as a sport than soccer over it's history.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,150 ✭✭✭ TheCitizen


    sydthebeat wrote: »
    the 4 home nations national level soccer teams are horrible to watch.
    similar to rugby there's a dearth of basic skills

    Please don't use terms like home nations.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,034 ✭✭✭ Blaaz_


    sydthebeat wrote: »
    the 4 home nations national level soccer teams are horrible to watch.
    similar to rugby there's a dearth of basic skills

    the skills in rugby,should be significantly easier to master vs soccer/hurling etc (almost zero kicking/weighted kick passes are expected)


    Its example of what is wrong with a lot of sports (particularly gaeilc football too,which is a terrible spectacle to watch at times).....it should be move the ball fast into space and get players on it.......

    but in reality rugby has devolved into just bigger and bigger players,crashing into one and another and skill levels are been snuffed out in pursuit of success,masking over it with buzzwords such as phases/rucks is not a long term solution.....

    it was never going to be worlds most skilful game,by design,but as a spectacle,it isnt as enjoyable to watch vs,early 00..


  • Registered Users Posts: 85 ✭✭ thehairygrape


    awec wrote: »
    This isn't a rugby vs soccer vs GAA discussion, please don't go down that road.

    I genuinely wasn't trying to pitch one sport against another. I love hurling for instance, but I've attended quite a few games where I almost lost the will to live, as well as all feeling in my extremities.
    I have never thought of sport as one or the other. There's room for all sports to grow with the right will of those involved. I suppose it's that Rugby was on TV over the weekend that pushed me to comment. I also hope this thread doesn't become a 'one-sport-against-another' one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,285 ✭✭✭✭ Podge_irl


    TheCitizen wrote: »
    The flair from backs and enterprising running rugby from years ago seems to be gone. The French were famous for it when they had players like Blanco. The Welsh always had genius out halves. The game doesn't produce players like Campese anymore.
    TheCitizen wrote: »
    The Ireland game was very poor standard. Error strewn, unforced errors from both sides meant the game was tight on then scoreboard as a contest. Maybe Covid has had a bigger impact on rugby than other sports with training prohibited ? It was very poor stuff.

    A large amount of the flair and enterprising running from years ago was possible precisely because of poor standards and errors. It is completely logically inconsistent to complain about poor standards and errors while harking back to a time when they were rife.


  • Registered Users Posts: 85 ✭✭ thehairygrape


    I'm completely from another sporting background.

    Gaelic football is my number one sport by miles. And by golly it can be an atrocious game to watch at times. No disputing that.

    It's probably something to do with only remembering the good parts of childhood but when I was a kid and teenager, I loved watching rugby. It seemed a great sport.

    But honestly I find most rugby games hard to watch these days. The OP covered most of what I would think about it. Over the weekend I saw a few minutes of the England Italy game but that's all. 30 years ago I would have watched all three games. To be fair, maybe there's so much choice on TV these days (sport and otherwise). 30 years ago I probably had only a few channels.

    Can't comment on the analysts. That's the time to make tea or grab another drink! (for all sports)

    Good post, but have to disagree about the analysis. I attended a cricket test once in England (Lords). Had the good luck to sit next to a guy who spent the day explaining what was going on. He didn't talk down to me, but patiently explained the intricacies of the game. By the end of the day I was fascinated by the game, and five days tests in particular and still am (we were also slightly drunk, but that's another story). My point is, is that a good analyst can add so much to the enjoyment and understanding of an unfamiliar sport. But I do take the points made earlier that O'Gara's analysis did sit well with some people.


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  • Moderators, Politics Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 10,891 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Quin_Dub


    Podge_irl wrote: »
    A large amount of the flair and enterprising running from years ago was possible precisely because of poor standards and errors. It is completely logically inconsistent to complain about poor standards and errors while harking back to a time when they were rife.

    This is a very valid point.

    It's unreasonable to compare the game of rugby before/after the introduction of Professionalism.

    Going back 30/40 years ago in the days of a Gareth Edwards , a Mike Gibson or a Campese etc. they were extremely skillful players playing in hugely unstructured games where , certainly at International level the players literally would have had a few hours together prior to matches to prepare and agree on game plans etc.

    The whole game back then was largely "wait for the super-star to do something" or taking advantage of a a series of mistakes from the opposition either as a result of a lack of organisation or a lack of fitness because they all had day jobs too.

    Now though , not only are they all supremely fit athletes they have also spent countless days/weeks preparing for games and as such the general error count is massively reduced.

    Some ignore the huge amount of skill and preparation it takes to do the things that we see in games today both in attack and defence. The level of skill ,training and preparation required to have multiple big guys running dummy lines and delivering cut-out passes etc. etc. seems to be lost on a lot of people.

    The "error strewn" games we see today are in fact anything but - a handful of dropped passes or misdirected kicks etc. are a fraction of what was seen 30 years ago.

    In fact the "mistakes" were the norm then and the skill on display was mostly guys either recovering from those mistakes or taking advantage of them.


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