Tuesday 23 January 2018

Tony Ward - Scrum or not to scrum? If only rugby could mimic GAA's non-stop action

Lee Keegan of Mayo celebrates after scoring his side's first goal in the 54th minute during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Lee Keegan of Mayo celebrates after scoring his side's first goal in the 54th minute during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

independent.ie Sportsdesk

While watching the Pro14 fare in South Africa, Wales and Belfast, I was a bit taken aback at one or two of the comments I was listening to in relation to the scrum and its over-exaggerated significance in the modern game.

Here again I am prepared to give the law changes time to bed in, but for the life of me I cannot see where any improvement and, more relevantly, reduction in time lost to the scrum is taking place.

It was brought home even more on Sunday when along with 82,000 others I was privileged to be in Croke Park for what was another enthralling football occasion. Regular readers will know that Gaelic football ranks alongside rugby and soccer in my favourite team sports.

As I was watching non-stop action, and yes at times some of the play was sloppy, the entertainment and drama was on a par with the frenetic intensity.

I couldn't but draw comparison with rugby in its current incarnation. I know the scrum can't be dropped from the game, and of course I get the relevance having operated pretty close to it for long enough.

That said, the thought did cross my mind that in an ideal world just how good a game could Union be minus the scrum or, more specifically, the collapsed scrum/scrums followed by the inevitable penalty.

It is like watching paint dry when compared to seeing the likes of Aidan O'Shea, Lee Keegan, Andy Moran, James McCarthy, Philly McMahon and Ciarán Kilkenny do their uninterrupted thing.

World Rugby have recognised the problem but if the game is to survive in a world where paying customers matter more than ever (was it 500 in Port Elizabeth?) then even greater and more urgent change is of the essence.

Irish Independent

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