Pathana aiming for the triple

Monday, 7 July 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Round up The schools knockout rounds are in their final stages. Whether the same has evoked the level of interest and excitement that it should is debatable. Maybe the FIFA World Cup and the Wimbledon has had an adverse effect. As anticipated Pathana played quality rugby and progressed to semi-final with ease. As I write they are to take on giant killers Science College who downed a struggling Petes outfit last week. As someone quipped, the Petes were scientifically dismantled and their track record of last gasp efforts in crunch games deserted them and they had no answer. Rugby has always been and will be a team game and whilst brilliant individuals win games, quality and consistent teams win championships. Thus the Petes have a lot of soul searching to do, if they are to return to the heydays of the past.   Royal eventually overcame a gallant Joe’s outfit and showed their immense resilience in such situations as they made the last quarter count. TCK have once again demonstrated their consistency and this time taught Wesley the hard way on what it means to play in the top league. Wesley having had a good season last year has learnt that reaching the top is one thing but remaining there is a tad more difficult. Their performance this season was well below the lofty standards that they set last year. The Zam Zam Zake war cry has been silenced. The second semi-final will evoke a lot of interest and passion in that it will be a mini-Bradby and the old boys will ensure that they draw the maximum out of this contest. RC will have the advantage of playing on home turf and will be looking to even out the anomalies of the previous two rounds. The pressure of a knock out will weigh heavily on both sides and the expectations of reaching the final looming it can lead to many sides not being able to play their natural game and thus falling prey to simple errors that could prove to be costly. RC has continuously experimented with their back division which has obviously been their weak link and has cost them scoring opportunities at crucial junctures. TCK will be well aware of this shortcoming and it will be no surprise to see them use this as a point of attack and exploitation. They are bound to have a plan to curtail the effectiveness of the RC rolling maul. RC will need to pay close attention to the TCK three quarters as Ratwatte is able to marshal his troops well. Their ability to counter attack from their own territory when the chips are down is an area that requires attention. Pathana should make it to the finals having got the better of Science on previous occasions. For them with the Triple Crown looming whether it is TCK or RC in the finals will make little difference and that is how it should be. On their day, as they have proved throughout the season, they play expansive rugby and look for every opportunity to score. Their track record this season in the number of tries scored per match is worthy of admiration and all credit to the coaching staff for the courage and style of rugby dished out. The rolling maul A lot of argument and discussions have revolved around the tactics of the ‘rolling maul’ that the Royalists have employed with great success this season. It is not a new concept but has not been used by many teams in the past with any form of regularity. A number of rugby enthusiasts have argued that the referees have not been up to the mark in their interpretation of the rules that govern the Maul. It is indeed an interesting point of discussion as the referee is the best person to witness and ascertain the legality of the rolling maul. A rolling maul when in full flight is a treat to watch and is arguable almost impossible to stop. The team going forward obviously has an advantage in that it is generally pre-planned and they are ready for it with correct body position and binding. The ball carrier is the last guy in the maul and the scrum half is generally the director of traffic egging the team forward. As soon as the ball carrier gets detached from the group, the maul is over or when the maul collapses legally and the referee then calls for the team with the ball to use the ball. The rolling maul is employed in most instances from a line out and the ball is thrown to the No. 4 jumper so that there is even support in the formation of the maul. The opposition has just one option to stop the rolling maul legally, without actually collapsing the maul and that is to get their body position right and in a correct ‘V’ position so as to counter the rolling maul. If the opposition is successful in stopping the movement of the Maul, the attacking side must use hen ball immediately. Another important aspect in execution of the rolling maul is when the attacking side attempts a pushover try. The eventual try scorer must ensure that he is bound up to the point of scoring so that he is legally able to do so. This is where a number of rugby enthusiasts differ in terms of the referees’ ability to watch for all possible infringements that could occur in the successful completion and execution of a rolling maul. Thus in a number of games played overseas the use of the TMO has come into greater focus as the TMO is able to watch the entire process in slow motion and infringements that are readily not visible to the on-field referee are then clarified. Thus having watched a number of games both live and video recordings, where Royal employed the rolling maul, it is not clear to make any form of allegation. The video recordings available at this point in time are totally inadequate to make an informed judgement given the lack of various camera angles and thus it must be noted that the referee is the best person to make a judgement on the validity of the rolling Maul. Given the hype of the rolling maul, the pressure on the referee will be high in the forthcoming games. (The writer can be reached via [email protected])

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