Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Super 14: Week Nine preview

April 7, 2006

The big match of the S14 weekend got out of the gate with the defending champion Crusaders of Canterbury winning a tight battle at home against the top-of-the-table New South Wales Waratahs (details below).

Rugby Planet previews the rest of this weekend's action.

All the best Super 14 action is available online at The Rugby Channel at MediaZone. The matches are available live and on replay for your co0nvenience. Right now they are easily a North American rugby supporters best friend, and now accessible in 73 nations.

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Matt Brown at the Rugby Channel also writes up a superb preview each week and showcases a weekly "Watch & Comment" feature where you can view clips and make comments about the most controversial plays of the week. Brownie usually takes runs at referees and TMO judges.

In his latest column, Brown looks at the "Richie McCaw is a cheat" scandal brewing down under the past week. Brownie writes:

It’s been an interesting week for Super 14 rugby controversy what with questions about the Cheetahs slowdown tactics, inconsistent citings, and most prominently, accusations that Richie McCaw is a cheater. Let’s start with McCaw.

I believe that the Crusaders flanker is the best player in world rugby and by definition as an opensider, he’s supposed to operate right on the edge of the law. Most of the uninformed whinging about his play centers on whether or not he’s given too much leeway by referees because of his reputation. While I’m sure that refs do sometimes give him the benefit of the doubt, I think it’s based not on his stature in the game but from careful analysis of their own performances.

As someone who’s watched a whole lot of Crusaders video over the years, I’ve long had a theory that about half the calls against McCaw were erroneous. When you watch in slow motion or frame-by-frame, many of the penalties called against him are not supportable under the law but look correct at regular speed.

I’m guessing that in an attempt to improve their positioning and decision-making, many top-level referees watch the games they call and have come to realize better than the average fan the extraordinary quickness and comprehensive understanding of the law that McCaw possesses and are thus a bit more hesitant to whistle him up for actions that most other players would find themselves marching back ten for.

Unfortunately Brown's column isn't linked through the index page on the website---you have to enter your email address to subscribe and the column is sent as a weekly email. But it's well worth it, and I recommend you do just that. Again, head on over to The Rugby Channel at MediaZone.


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