Is it just me, or are the Try of the Year candidates boring?
The IRB has listed its candidates for International Try of the Year, and looking at them again, I have to let out a wholehearted "oh, that's nice."
Rugby, you see, is a wonderful game, the greatest team game every devised. It involves the interplay and contribution of many types of players - big and small, fast and strong, skilled, smart, and lucky.
So when I prepare to look at a list of best tries nominations, I want to see a try where the forwards did something exciting and special. I want to see at least one try where there's some interplay, and change of direction. I want to see a try through kicking and exceptional skill. maybe we could see the world's greatest maul, or some outrageous passing or sidestepping.
Here's what I saw: Try #1: A lovely kick from Dan Carter to the wing so New Zealand's Julian Havea can take it on the bounce, cut back, and streak in for the a try. Great skill from both, and pace from Havea. Passes - 1, from scrumhalf to flyhalf. Tacklers beaten - 1. What do the forwards do? Win a scrum.
Try #2: South Africa wins a lineout. Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar falls over, but gets to his feet in time to feed a pass to Bryan Habana blazing into the line. Habana is clear through and the lofts a smart kick to the corner to chase down. Lots of speed, and a nice kick. Passes - 1. Tacklers beaten - I guess 1. What do the forwards do? Win a lineout.
Try #3: A sneaky run from his scurmhalf off the ruck sets up Julien Malzieu of Italy, who fends off several Frenchmen to score. Some good tackle-breaking here, and a nifty setup run also. Passes - 1. Tacklers beaten - several. What do the forwards do? Win a ruck.
Try #4: New Zealand wins a lineout (it's actually overthrown but gathered at the back) and they send the ball through the hands. A nice half-break and then Hosea Gear gets the ball, races down the line, bowls over one Irishman, and is in. NIce passing, lots of pace. Passes - 3. Tacklers beaten - 1. What do the forwards do? Win a lineout, and make first pass.
Here's the thing about these tries. I read a lot of rugby reporting from around the world, and most rugby reporters don't say anything about the game. They just list who scored and when, and maybe one other incident. They behave as if the guy who scores the most points is the best player on the field.
That thinking is reflected in these nominations. There is virtually no passing. There is no interplay of several players running in support. There's only one real case of a player beating other tacklers. The forwards have no role whatsoever other than to set the table for the backs. Don't forwards do anything else? You wouldn't know it from these nominations.
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