More Tries Or More Penalties?
Kudos to Varsity Cup Rugby for continuing to push the envelope and being at the forefront of revolutionising the game.
The same body that introduced South Africa to Monday night rugby, white cards, pink shorts and experimental law variations will undertake its greatest experiment yet when it trials an innovate new points-scoring system in all four of its competitions this year.
With the aim to promote and reward attack-orientated rugby, conversions will be worth three points while penalties and drop goals will be worth just two points. A converted try would thus equal out four penalties or drop goals.
Whilst being a traditionalist, I applaud Varsity Cup Rugby’s bold innovations and underlining desire to strengthen South African rugby. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as the old proverb proclaims.
This latest novelty is a mouth-watering prospect but - running the risk of sounding like a doom prophet - is an experiment that could blow up in the faces of Varsity Cup Rugby’s brains trust.
The Springboks’ much-maligned conservative game plan has come under increasing criticism over the past two seasons with their southern hemisphere rivals New Zealand and Australia leading the way with their modernised ball-in-hand approach and reaping great rewards by winning the World Cup and Tri-Nations respectively last year.
The new points-system could go a long way in changing the mindset of South African players as it will encourage the stars of tomorrow to retain possession and entice their symptoms of try line fever.
Conversely, however, it could promote negative play by defending teams who may adopt the mindset of willingly conceding penalties rather than granting their opponents opportunities to build continuity and create try-scoring opportunities.
This would result in a significant increase in deliberate infringements and yellow cards and could lead to situations of 12 playing 13 and uncontested scrums. Sending-offs would therefore be the real reason behind more tries being scored and may plant seeds of negativity in defending players.
It remains to be seen whether the alterations will have the desired effects but despite the potential pitfalls, it remains an experiment worth trying and one that will certainly generate renewed interest in Varsity Cup Rugby.
The 2012 Varsity Shield kicks off on Monday with CUT playing Wits in Bloemfontein at 5pm and Fort Hare facing UWC in Alice at 7pm. Both matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport One.
The 2012 Varsity Cup commences on Monday, February 6.
Varsity Cup Round One Fixtures:
FNB UCT vs. FNB Shimlas (UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town), 5pm (TV)
FNB Tuks vs. FNB UJ (Tuks Rugby Stadium, Pretoria), 7pm (TV)
FNB Maties vs. FNB TUT (Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch), 7pm
FNB NMMU vs. FNB Pukke (Xerox NMMU Stadium, Port Elizabeth), 7pm