Autumn Tests: Lack of exposure to rule changes leaves tourists unfazed
HARDLY anyone outside the camp is giving Scotland so much as a snowball’s chance in hell of causing a major upset against New Zealand on Sunday. And there is no doubt that if Andy Robinson’s men are to achieve the shock result to beat all shock results then every tiny advantage will have to work fully in their favour.
One area where they may have an edge over New Zealand is in their understanding of recent IRB rule amendments.
Two of the most significant changes were to law 16 and law 20. The first of these gives a team five seconds to play a ball clearly won at a ruck or have it turned over; the second alteration aims at reducing the length of time it takes for the scrum to be formed, by requiring the referee to call only “crouch” then “touch” then “set”, at which point the front rows may engage.
These changes were not implemented during the recent Rugby Championship, so many senior members of the New Zealand squad have little or no experience of how they alter the game.
Two of the most senior – Andrew Hore and Piri Weepu – played down the significance of their lack of exposure to the new way of doing things.
“I had a bit of a run around during the ITM Cup but didn’t really get a good understanding of what the rules are about,” admitted Weepu, when asked about the five-second rule at the base of rucks. “But we had a pretty good explanation given to us last week, so I think the boys are pretty well prepared.
“We like to speed the game up anyway. We have a rule within the squad that the ball shouldn’t be there for more than five seconds, so we like to get there and clear it anyway. I don’t think it is going to play much into the game.”
Hore is equally relaxed about his lack of exposure to the new protocol for bringing a scrum together.
“We’ve done a bit of a crash course on that during the last week. Colesy [fellow hooker Dane Coles, who was not involved in the Rugby Championship] and those boys have had a couple of games to get used to it.
“But, unfortunately, I’ve had none to get used to it,’ he shrugged. “There has been a few issues with scrum reset so whatever we can do to keep the scrum in the game I’ll be happy to try out.”
This particular issue could be crucial. With so many front-row players missing, the Scots are going to be seriously under pressure at scrum time. Geoff Cross is the only bona fide tight-head in the squad, and his form has been patchy all season. Of even more concern to Robinson is going to be the lack of firepower coming off the bench. The two replacement props are Kyle Traynor, who was deemed surplus to requirement by Edinburgh last season and is now plying his trade for Bristol in the lower half of the second-tier English Championship, and Allan Jacobsen, who brings a wealth of experience but has had a hamstring problem which has restricted him to only four appearances for Edinburgh this season.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
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