A quick follow-up to my earlier post ("ELVs: Rush to judgment"), via Rugby Heaven:
Beaumont says ELVs will win over Europe
By DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
19 February 2008
Bill Beaumont, widely acknowledged as one of the best locks in the history of the game and a unifying figure as manager of the 2005 British & Irish Lions, believes the seeds are already being sewn for their acceptance up north. He says there seems to be a new commitment to attacking rugby in Europe in 2008 even without the aid of the ELVs.
Beaumont said new French coach Marc Lievremont had spoken openly of his ambition to return some flair to the French game while Wales had played attractive rugby under new coach Warren Gatland. And Beaumont, who made an artform of the maul, noted that even in last weekend's English Premiership Wasps had beaten Bath 42-34 - an unusual scoreline between two of the top teams.
"There is massive interest in Europe as to how these new laws go in the Super 14," said Beaumont. He said the Super 14 was a big hit on TV there and these laws would be under the microscope from a wide audience.
He felt the new laws still allowed teams to play in different ways, something that was crucial to the appeal of rugby.
"Europe is conservative with a small ‘c' and the game moves on. It's the contrast in styles that makes the game fascinating and that can still be achieved."
It was noticeable that the Blues held their structure to see off the Chiefs while some of the other matches had ragged finishes as fitness and mental strength were tested by the new pace of the game.
"I would have to be a little bit fitter," Beaumont chuckled when asked what he thought of the Eden Park match.
"But there was not a dramatic difference. Yes there were more free kicks but there was still a huge emphasis on set piece."
The IRB have pushed hard to get their new game operating at this level in the southern hemisphere and judging by the mood of Beaumont and new IRB chief Bernard Lapasset of France, they will be just as persuasive with the northern unions.
There seems to be a real determination to improve rugby as a spectacle from the men in charge at the very top.
"The game has to move forward and evolve," declared Beaumont. He said the benefit of the long trial programme being given to the ELVs was that the IRB would be able to conduct a full analysis on a huge amount of information. "Then we can make a decision based on fact rather than hearsay."