Watching a game on TV the other day I was alarmed to see a referee penalise a player for tackling his opponent in the air. This was not the usual scenario, the leap to get first to the high ‘bomb’, but a back running with the ball in an orthodox passing move.
What happened on this occasion, was that the man inside the ‘victim’ had passed inaccurately, causing his teammate to stretch upwards, so at the instant his opponent hit him, he was off the ground – only a few inches, but yes, he was airborne. It made me think, that when a player runs with the ball he spends at least half of the time out of contact with the ground. I think it’s a lot more than half, actually.
I did a bit of surfing of athletics sites and, typically, a top sprinter will have a stride-length of about two metres, and therefore make fifty strides over 100 metres. If his foot is the same size as yours, or mine, about 20 cm, he can’t possibly be in contact with the ground for more than 50 x 20 cm, which is only 10 metres out of the hundred. One-tenth on the ground, nine-tenths in the air, that’s what fast running is.
Or is there a flaw in this reasoning, somewhere? Granted, our rugby players are not elite sprinters, and some of them a bloody long way from that, I still contend that a player – running – is likely to be entirely in the air at the instant he is tackled. Slow motion will inevitably show this. And if we go down that road, the game is completely unplayable. You can’t tackle a running player.
I didn’t go to Chester last week, as I had intended. Storm Arwen was blowing the dustbins around outside, and I was staying in the warmth of my home. I watched Quins play London Irish on TV, and followed our progress on Rolling Maul. Chester scored first, then we scored, and it was 21-7 at half time. What I wanted to know, were we with the wind in the first half, in which case I should be worried? Or did we have it behind us in the second, in which case, game over? Or perhaps it was across?
Anyway, we doubled the score to win 42-14. Eight tries, four at each end, all converted. Perhaps no wind at all? Deva Delinquent, who does the same job for Chester as Sedge Tiger does for us (but ST was not there), was gracious enough to say we had outplayed them in every aspect. He also said it was ‘chuffing cold’, which is a sort of Cheshire word. Well, I was gradely warm, back home in Prestwich.
Was I alone in having a little snigger under the blankets, that Luctonians had beaten Fylde? Is this even allowed? Yes it is. Leagues have made rugby honest.
What is it about Australians? We have a deliberate knock-on, which seems to be flavour of the month for offences these days. Kurtley Beale is sent to the bin. There was another incident, later, when a Welshman knocked the ball down but was not binned. “How is this different,” screamed the captain? “How is this different?” echoed the coach.
Here’s the answer. Simply, that to be a deliberate knock-on, it has to be both deliberate (which it was) and a knock-on, which it wasn’t. How can this be hard to understand? I feel more like Victor Meldrew with every passing day.
Finally, my photos of the Hull game are on Flickr, including a nice portrait of Skalpy. https://www.flickr.com/photos/forwarddefensive/albums/72157720173745