Wednesday, March 1. 2017
Despite the calls for a change in the laws to rucks, I’m here to say no. The problem on Saturday was that the England players and crowd are obviously too stupid to understand what was going and adapt (and perhaps angry that their expectations of a cricket score were being spoiled by some smart play).
As I hinted in my previous post on the topic, there are several ways to counter the refusal to commit to the ruck.
Obviously without committing players there, the defenders have, in theory, up to seven extra players but a typical defensive ruck is usually actually only four or five strong. There are exceptions to that (if there’s a good chance of a turnover, if the attackers pile a lot of extra players in, if it’s right by the try line for example), but you usually see the defenders have the tackler, one or two extra players forming the ruck, then a guard close on each side, sort of ‘half bound’ to the ruck for a total of five. These guards can lean in to stop a drive up the middle or step out to stop a quick pick and drive. There will be two players (usually forwards) a bit more detached as the next line of close defenders for the pop pass but are too detached for attacking ruckers to drag in and try and create a ruck, unlike the guards, and Italy had these looser players at most tackles so they created four or five extra defenders, not seven.
Then, however, they put several of these players on the England side of the tackle, preventing easy passes and disrupting lines of sight. So their net gain is possibly two defenders, and probably two front row forwards, who are not typically the most mobile players on the park.
There are a number of simple counters which will almost always work.
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