Give me nimble-footed Darcy Graham tries over those five-metre efforts every day of week
I suppose Ronan O’Gara may at least have run him close, but I doubt it. He was at it again last week, depriving Edinburgh of what would have been one of their finest wins.
Nevertheless, it was a very fine performance, with no star shining more brightly than Darcy Graham. He scored three tries to add to the pair he scored against the Dragons the previous week. The nimble-footed Darcy is a delight to watch, a dazzler and snapper-up of tries in the style of Iwan Tukalo, Shae Williams and Vincent Clerc.
Glasgow had a good, much-need win against Cardiff at Scotstoun, scoring eight tries in what became a demolition job. Two were credited Fraser Brown, rising with the ball in his hands from a driving maul.
Well, this has become the most common form of scoring tries, and though one wouldn’t pretend it isn’t welcome when your own side do it, the truth is it’s become a bit of a bore. Of course it takes skill and good management as well as power to score these tries, but when hookers are their club’s top scorers, almost all coming from these 5-metre drives, it’s not, to put it mildly, the most welcome development in the game. The Leinste rhooker scored four tries last week. I wonder how far he had to run for any of them.
Hookers – rugby hookers – deserve respect but to put their try-scoring feats in perspective, Colin Deans, the best ball-handling Scottish hooker I have seen and a fine reader of the open game, scored only two tries in his 32-match international career. Most of Scotland’s tries were scored then by backs: Andy Irvine, Jim Renwick. Keith Robertson, David Johnston, John Rutherford and Roy Laidlaw; all a lot more fun to watch than today’s rolling maul tries.
Rolling maul tries are not as tedious to watch as the “one-pass, take the tackle, one pass, take the tackle etc” ones, but they are not far behind, all part of the modern game’s fixation with power.
The one thing to be said in favour of the 5-metre rolling maul try is that there are now fewer penalty kicks at goal. This doesn’t however mean that less time is wasted because it now takes as long to get ready for a line-out as a place-kicker’s preparations.
Some time ago concern over the dominance of the maul led the IRB to experiment with a law permitting the opposition to bring the maul down by tackling the ball-carrier. This provoked cries of anguish from England, the maul being such a big part of their game. So the experiment was abandoned and, I guess, would now be thought too dangerous also. Nevertheless I think something could be done to check the dominance of the driving-maul. Moving the 5-metre line back to a 10 or even 15 metre one might be worth trying.
Meanwhile, last Saturday I abandoned the TV and the professional game to watch Selkirk play Edin burgh Accies at Pihliphaugh. It was a close match on a lovely autumn afternoon with both teams committed to playing an expansive and imaginative handling game. So there was some lovely rugby. Early in the second hand this ambition had a former coach shaking his wise old head. “They’re playing too much rugby,” he opined too much in the wrong part of the pitch. It did indeed coast Selkirk dear when a handling move broke down and an Accies centre galloped away to score. Nevertheless it was all much more fun than watching paint dry – sorry, I mean, watching a 5-metre rolling maul. In short, the amateur game looked in good health and one had to admit that Accies just deserved their 24-20 win.