Happiness Isn't Always Egg-Shaped

WEEL-KENT man about Scottish Rugby Bruce “Happiness is egg-shaped” Aitchison posted the following on Facebook yesterday.

Bruce Aitchison

Well said Bruce, and I am happy to post it as a conversation starter, finding, as I do, very little that he has said to be in any way wrong.

Ah hae ma doots about this, but, I would hope the High Heid Yins of Scottish and World Rugby, and especially you John Jeffrey, take note and – dae somethin' before the game we all love is damaged beyond repair.

Bruce wrote:

Someone's opinion can be viewed as nonsense or your truth. This is only my opinion.
Just for clarity, Scotland lost because Ireland were better. More of that another time. This is not a comment based purely on that game just witnessed, but it certainly provides more fuel for my opinionated fire.
I don't know enough. I'm not in the Law review meetings, I'm not a referee, I've never met Beaumont or Pichot but I understand the Laws and love the game.
The players are bigger and stronger and faster than ever before. The game has changed, as it has for every generation.
My worry for now and the future is the APPLICATION of the Laws. I'm not concerned by the Laws, I think they are clear. I'm not sure who the buck should stop with. But, in my opinion, it needs sorted NOW.
Unfortunately, it is too late as the shop window of the World Cup has bolted. It's tough talking to parents who aren't sold on the game due to things like 'collision', 'hit', the 'breakdown', 'tackle height' and 'development age, stage, experience & 'conditioning'. The World Cup isn't helping this. If the Laws were applied, the game would change, it would be safer and there would be more space for wider range of bodies types and size.
The defence are offside, denying time & space to the attack and making the game slow, predictable and so all about power and strength. Run at a brick wall. Test rugby is full of it.
Players seal off the ball, without supporting their body weight meaning there is no contest for the ball. This leads to multiple, repetitive phases that all look the same, all about power and strength. Test rugby is full of it, especially when 'seeing out the game' when winning with 2mins to go.?
Players enter the tackle melee from wherever they like, often leading with a shoulder, tackling players beyond the ball or lifting the opponent and tipping them out of the game. Test rugby is full of it.
Because all of this making the game slow, the back field can be full of players awaiting a kick. Meaning there is hardly any space anywhere in the field. So let's batter the ball into the sky and pile into the catcher and hope for a turnover. Which bring the next danger, how do you challenge safely in the air? Who knows?
The tackle is head on because of the position of the defence line, half way up the ruck. This leads to tackle height being above the waist and leading to the game being based on strength and power. Test rugby is full of it.
I love the game. I want players to be on their feet. Driving over and beyond the ball at the tackle, creating a competition on the floor and quicker ball with 9 forced to play it.
Don't even get me started on 9s being allowed hands on but the ball isn't out, the feed to the scrum making it 3 props rather than 2 + a hooker who hooks, the squint line out throws and players bouncing back the back of a maul. That would take all day, and night. And players MUST use their arms in the tackle.
I love the game. I love the World Cup. I think Japan is amazing and I wish I was there. But like most things we love, we accept the imperfections.
Happiness is Egg Shaped

WELL, Bruce has had his say, and he makes a lot of good points. The implication is, as I read it – we need the referees to be given clear guidelines on what is and is not allowed; we then need them to apply these guidelines, clearly and CONSISTENTLY.

Particularly at the top end, we now hear of coaches studying the match official they know they are getting and asking their analysts to provide them with information:

  • How does he referee the breakdown?
  • Does he allow “a fair contest?”
  • How hot is he on the front rows?
  • Where can we push things with him?

The players are then told what they should and should not do with any given match official. If there was consistency of law application, this would not happen.

But, the referees need to be made to act according to a set protocol, and they need to be backed, because, if there is to be a clamp down on something or other, and controversy follows – the referees, not the law makers, will have to take the flak, so they must be supported.

I will tell you one thing I would immediately cut out – the way referees are encouraged to “coach” around the break-down; you know what I mean:

  • Stay there seven”
  • Get back six”
  • Hands away four”

You hear it every game. Well, instead of calling instructions, why doesn't a referee say nothing, but blow his whistle and award the penalty. I reckon even the stroppiest scrum-half would quickly realise, we have to play to the laws with this guy, or we will get crucified.

It might make for a few weeks of dire, stop-start games where the penalty count was through the roof, but, if the Unions told the clubs – sort your players out, make them play to the laws – things would calm down and we would see a better game.

I would also, and I make no apologies for repeating this:


Nothing would speed-up the game and clean-up the breakdown faster than insisting:

  • At the breakdown, when a ruck is formed, the players MUST:
  • Stay on their feet
  • Play the ball with a foot
  • If they lie there, they get stood on
With today's all-seeing eye at the top level, the head-kickers, stampers and rakers would soon be found-out, and hopefully, given lengthy bans to consider changing their ways.

Having to ruck, would commit more players to the breakdown, thereby creating additional space wide out, and,hopefully leading to a more-open game, with more tries.

Let's get the game cleaned-up an speeded-up.

Happiness Isn't Always Egg-Shaped