Tuesday, 4 March 2014 01:20
The first four games of the Clifford Cup Knock out tournament got underway last week. Kandy eventually pulled through in a high scoring encounter against the Police. Navy as usual blasted their way with a seven try scoring spree and look on course for a double. Havies on the other hand huffed and puffed their way against a do or die Army outfit that was hell bent on giving the Havies a run for their money. They almost succeeded and what saved the Havies was the introduction of their seniors in the second half. The Havies are playing some poor rugby and must consider it lucky to be still out there.
The game was marred to a certain extent with the dishing out of a red card to a Havies player. Whilst the decision in itself may look harsh I am all for discipline. Once the referee take a view the player must abide by the decision and get a move on.
In the final game the Lions met CR and taught them a lesson or two in knock out stage rugby. Once again the winners churned out seven tries and the walk back from the Racecourse to Longdon Place must have been long and painful. CR who promised so much at the start, failed to live up to their expectations and definitely let their fans down with some poor and lackadaisical play. For a team that has been in the limelight of local rugby for so long and having produced some of the country’s finest players this was definitely a poor performance.
For the Sharks, CR, Air Force and CH it’s back to the drawing board and hopefully they will get their act together next season.
The next set of games should provide better quality of rugby and should be closely contested. The crowds at the games have been disappointing and so far the bulk of them have been provided by the forces. With all of them out except for Navy the crowds will dwindle further and I am not sure whether the fact the Asia Cup games are on as well the SA/Aussie Test match or the Super Rugby is taking its toll on the attendance at these games.
Even from the crowds that were present it was obvious that there was little support for the club sides and diehard fans of yesteryear have all but disappeared. The schools season will commence soon and that will definitely provide a fillip for the game with enhanced attendance and renewed inter school rivalry.
We need to move from being reliant on expatriate referees to home grown talent. The sooner that the transition takes place the better it will be for the game as a whole. However until the competency levels reach the desired levels we will need to swallow our pride and learn from the best.
Watching the super rugby games it is refreshing to see a definite change in style of play of the NZ and SA sides. They appear to be more physical and are willing to try new tricks to gain the slightest of advantages.
The Aussie sides appear to be in a state of slumber and if they do not wake up soon, they will definitely be left behind. The refereeing too seems to have changed with the bulk of them seeking far fewer scrum resets and playing an awful lot of advantage in a bid to let the game flow. They have also cracked down on dangerous play and thus tackling by jersey tugging and diving into a ruck and frowned upon and penalised. We hope that the revised rules make the game a lot safer.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org)