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Monday Feb 3, 2020

Ridiculous 'rucking conga' still at large and with no sign of being eradicated from the game

Ridiculous 'rucking conga' still at large and with no sign of being eradicated from the game
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One thing that is slowly creeping its way back into the game of rugby is the use of ladder rucking before a box kick.

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This was something that grew increasingly prevalent in recent years, where the team in possession would form a train of players leading back from the ruck to create a greater distance between the scrumhalf and the opposition defence in order to make a box kick easier.

Saracens were the main exponents of this rucking conga, and World Rugby subsequently introduced the five second law at the base of the ruck to counteract this problem. The law states: “When the ball has been clearly won by a team at the ruck, and is available to be played, the referee calls “use it”, after which the ball must be played away from the ruck within five seconds.”

However, this law is so seldom enforced by referees that the tactic has worked its way back into the game again. Often the words “use it” are heard, but very rarely is there any punishment if nothing happens within the next five seconds.

This time round, Exeter Chiefs are the ones who are often associated with this conga, shown no clearer than in their recent Premiership Rugby Cup match against Harlequins. In this match, a train of five players were used, which brings the ball almost five metres back from where the ball carrier went to ground.

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It is hard to see how a team could ever set this up in the five seconds that they theoretically have once the ball is playable to the scrumhalf.

Ultimately, if teams are able to get away with it, they will, as it creates a safe situation for a team to clear the ball without the threat of being charged down. It does equally slow the game down, and create far fewer opportunities for defences to compete, which does affect the sport as a product.

The easiest way to combat such a problem is for referees to adhere to the laws which were originally created to combat this very problem.

This tweet from late last year shows the exact same thing in action.

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1 Comments

  • LD
    5:50 PM 09/02/2020

    Rucking laws have to be changed.  Allowing real rucking would be one thing to do.  So, make it that players from both teams need to bind on to each other again!  It might actually get fowards doing the job they were intended to do in the first place: contest for ball at tackles.  The game looks like rugby league in the last few decades, more and more.  But, short of that, yes, referees need to penalize teams that aren't using the ball quickly enough.  Another solution is that a ball needs to be considered out of a ruck if it isn't clearly under the foot or feet and body of the last person bound into a ruck.  If a ball is lying on the ground at that last person's heel, with his or her leg really extended so far back, it should be considered that the ruck is over and ball out and play on; in the last, that's where the referee needs to say "Use it!" and mean it.  There could be more  counter-rucking from a change like that.  Also, a scrum half or acting scrum half should not be allowed to put his or her hands into a ruck if the ball is still well inside the ruck, though use of the boot by a scrum half to move the ball back is done quite often.  That would mean that players bound in would once again have to use their feet to actually ruck the ball back, as was intended in the first place as Southlanders in New Zealand developed that ploy in the 1930's, and as how rucks were played up until recent times.  At least laws were changed so that using the feet on players was strictly being penalized before more law changes made rucks become what they are now.  If more forwards were committed to contesting rucks, there'd be space again and defensive lines would disappear or be reduced in numbers, and the game would look like union again instead of league.  

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Ridiculous 'rucking conga' still at large and with no sign of being eradicated from the game | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos