The rugby headlines for Sunday August 29 as the fallout from the Lions tour continues…
Hansen – ‘No-one wants to watch’
World Cup winning coach Steve Hansen has criticised the rugby produced by the Lions and South Africa, saying the two rival coaches produced rugby no-one ‘wants to watch.’
Lions boss Warren Gatland has started to come under fire for his ultra Warrenball approach during the tour, with fly-half Dan Biggar only passing the ball twice during the first two Test matches and the lack of creativity leading to a try drought.
Former Wales ace Mark Ring says he wouldn’t have Gatland ‘anywhere near’ a fourth stint as Lions coach for the tour to Australia in 2025 as he lamented the rugby on show during a summer Test showdown which the Springboks won 2-1.
In an interview with Newstalk ZB, where he addresses issues with the laws that need to be tackled, Hansen also waded in by criticising the standard of fare produced by the Lions and world champion Springboks.
Gatland had the best of Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland backs available to him for the three Tests, but opted for a slugfest and to take on South Africa at their own game.
“You’ve got two big packs and two coaches who don’t have any belief in what’s going to happen if they throw the ball around, so they just beat each other up,” said Hansen.
” ‘Let’s slow the ball down, let’s get off our feet, do whatever we can to make sure our defensive line is stable so we can keep battering’.
“It’s not a game that anybody wants to watch. Yes we want a good physical contest, that’s what the game is about – physicality, speed, using the ball and skill.
“Could you say we saw that in that series? Of course we didn’t. And it turned a lot of people off.
“Suddenly, the All Blacks became popular again – ‘let’s hope the All Blacks can rescue rugby’. It’s not about the All Blacks rescuing rugby, it’s about everyone that’s involved in it taking some ownership and saying ‘right, we need to do something here’.”
Hansen spoke of the need to sort out the lawbook in the wake of ongoing concussion issues and amid calls for less replacements to be used.
He disagrees with that particular notion, arguing: “I don’t think changing the subs is going to help one iota, I think it actually just compounds the problem because you’d have a lot of fatigued players out there. So for me that’s not the issue.
“The issue that we have in our game at the moment is there is no clear officiating of the rules.
“If you look at the rulebook, it talks about a ruck and it never talks about the breakdown. Breakdown is a word used more often than any other word in the game – there’s not even a rule for a breakdown and we have an old, antiquated law that says two people will bond over the ball and that’ll be a ruck.
“Well that never happens in the game.
“A lot of the injuries we’re getting are actually friendly fire, so you and I make the tackle and I knock my head against your elbow or your head.
“So we’d create a game where there’s a clear picture at the breakdown that yes, ball is quicker, the defensive lines won’t be able to set as quick; so attacking lines will be attacking against destabilised defences more often and there’ll be more space.
“I think the opportunity to be really brutal will dissipate.”
Steve Hansen has spoken out about the style of rugby adopted by Warren Gatland’s Lions
(Image: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
He says rugby has become ‘too complicated’ with the rules, arguing: “When players don’t understand it, when people watching the game don’t understand it, when coaches don’t understand it, when referees can’t be consistent, we’ve got an issue and we’ve got to address that issue.
“What we’ve tended to do over the years is add, add, add; when history will tell you that if you make something simple, by taking things away, then you’ll get more consistent at making those decisions.
“I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall for quite some time to get people to understand that we’re over-complicating it.”
Moves to switch Welsh derby date
Moves have begun to switch the Cardiff versus Dragons Welsh derby clash this autumn in order to enable Wayne Pivac’s Wales stars to play in the Arms Park game.
The United Rugby Championship clash is scheduled for October 23, just seven days before Wales take on New Zealand at the adjoining Principality Stadium.
That means a host of Cardiff and Dragons stars, including Josh Adams, Tomos Williams, Josh Navidi, Ross Moriarty, Aaron Wainwright and Will Rowlands will be in the Wales camp preparing for the autumn Test opener.
It’s a situation which has left fans disappointed and even angry.
But moves are being made to see if the fixture can be switched, with Cardiff and the Dragons seeking a new date for the game.
The aim is to secure a more supporter-friendly date which would enable the regions to field their internationals so it would have the feel of a proper Welsh derby.
Savea – ‘captaincy is out of this world’
Ardie Savea has expressed his emotion and plans to lead by example after being appointed New Zealand captain for next weekend’s Rugby Championship clash with Australia.
Savea takes over the captaincy from Sam Whitelock, who misses the Perth game, while regular skipper Sam Cane is injured.
“To be able to lead such a team, it’s out of this world when I think about it,” said Savea.
“I’m still in awe. It’s a team that you dream of as a youngster and being able to lead is amazing. I’m lost for words and really grateful.
“A big thing is just being myself and leading the way I usually lead, which is just trying to do it through actions.
“I’m not a quiet dude but I usually go about things in a quiet way, so I won’t change much.”