Former All Black coach Steve Hansen is the latest rugby figure to take aim at the recent Springs vs Lions series, criticising those in charge for encouraging the teams to play a brand of rugby which, he feels, does the game no justice.
In an interview with Newstalk ZB, Hansen said:
“You’ve got two big packs and two coaches who don’t have any belief in what’s going to happen if they throw the ball around, so they just beat each other up,” said Hansen.
“‘Let’s slow the ball down, let’s get off our feet, do whatever we can to make sure our defensive line is stable so we can keep battering’.
“It’s not a game that anybody wants to watch. Yes, we want a good physical contest, that’s what the game is about – physicality, speed, using the ball and skill.
“Could you say we saw that in that series? Of course we didn’t. And it turned a lot of people off.
“Suddenly, the All Blacks became popular again – ‘let’s hope the All Blacks can rescue rugby’. It’s not about the All Blacks rescuing rugby, it’s about everyone that’s involved in it taking some ownership and saying ‘right, we need to do something here’.”
There has been talk recently of limiting the number of substitutions allowed by a team in an effort to curb the number of head injuries in the game – a notion backed by big names such as Sir Ian McGeechan and Willie John McBride – but Hansen has disagrees and has called for a revamping of the rules in general.
“I don’t think changing the subs is going to help one iota, I think it actually just compounds the problem because you’d have a lot of fatigued players out there. So for me that’s not the issue.
“The issue that we have in our game at the moment is there is no clear officiating of the rules.
“If you look at the rulebook, it talks about a ruck and it never talks about the breakdown. Breakdown is a word used more often than any other word in the game – there’s not even a rule for a breakdown and we have an old, antiquated law that says two people will bond over the ball and that’ll be a ruck.
“Well that never happens in the game.
“A lot of the injuries we’re getting are actually friendly fire, so you and I make the tackle and I knock my head against your elbow or your head.
“So we’d create a game where there’s a clear picture at the breakdown that yes, ball is quicker, the defensive lines won’t be able to set as quick; so attacking lines will be attacking against destabilised defences more often and there’ll be more space.
“I think the opportunity to be really brutal will dissipate.”