Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby News | Tags: ELVs, lineouts, rucks, rugby league, rugby union, scrums
A little piece of history was made on Saturday. The Bridgend Ravens beat Neath at the Gnoll for the first time since 1982. A Welsh Premiership match with bags of atmosphere, and a sizeable crowd for a wet and windy Saturday afternoon.
Bridgend are perhaps the least financially secure of a league with bridges the gap between the amateur and professional game in Wales. What makes their position even more precarious is news from the Super League. The Celtic Crusaders have won a franchise into Europe’s top level rugby league competition for 2009 and, for the first time, top class rugby league will be played on the fields of Wales.
Wait. Not the first time, because the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff has seen plenty of rugby league finals and one-offs. But now it will be regular games with all the razzmatazz and raw rugby that top league brings.
Many in the Bridgend area worry that rugby union will lose out. The local big club, the Ospreys in Swansea, is just too far away to stop the tide of young players falling away from union they say.
Does this argument sound familiar? Change the accent to somewhere south of Singapore and you might think you are not in the valleys but in the outback.
Some argue that the Australian rugby authorities are fighting back in the battle of the two codes because they think fans prefer the 13-a-side game. The ELVs are a direct consequence.
The ELV evidence is different. Scrums still play a vital part in the game as do lineouts and rucks still need to be won. This makes the union game unique. Coaches are not changing their technical coaching, more their tactical plans.
Another argument is that rugby league will diminish the pool of players available.
Don’t panic though. Rugby as a whole co-exists with football and martial arts as well as skateboarding and computer games. Youngsters will drop out of rugby for plenty of reasons and more rugby league will not be a problem. In fact it could be good thing. It will attract more players into rugby as a whole. The big, fast runners might leave rugby union and go to league. This opens the gates for other types of players into the young end of the game unable to find game time normally.
I see good things from the new league impetus. It will certainly make the union people shape up to work harder to look after the game at grassroots.
Here is a quick guide to RL for those who might have forgotten the rules!
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