Loose Pass

Date published: September 9 2015

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This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the six-appeal of a new scoring system, Webb Ellis' credentials and a near-miss in Paris.

Scoring system has six-appeal

Remember the name – Alex Webber. In years to come it may earn you respect in some obscure pub quiz.

The Pontypridd wing made history during his side's victory over Llanelli at the weekend with the first ever six-point try.

It was not the most spectacular of scores with the Wales Sevens international dancing through a hole as wide as the Severn Bridge to dot down but in terms of significance it could be huge for the sport as a whole.

The Welsh Premiership is trialling a revised scoring system – with the support of World Rugby – that sees the value of a try increased by one point and the reward for penalties and drop goals reduced to two points.

The aim is to encourage attacking and crowd-pleasing rugby and the experiment already appears to be paying dividends with Pontypridd out-scoring their rivals nine-tries-to-four in a 68-32 victory.

But more eye-catching is the fact that the game did not include one penalty kick at goal.

On this evidence, it would appear a no-brainer for the sport to roll this new scoring system out across the board.

There will of course be concern from traditionalists who decry any Law change but this makes perfect sense for a sport desperate to remain entertaining and engaging to fans, players and coaches alike.

The way the game is scored has evolved over the years and this is just a continuation of a trend that has seen tries become more valuable and kicks less so.

Once upon a time, tries were worth nothing and were rewarded with just the chance to 'try' for the posts – with games ultimately decided by conversions and drop goals.

But thankfully the importance of tries has steadily – and for some, painfully slowly – increased in the century or so since with the most recent revamp in 1991 increasing their value to five points from four.

Equally welcome is the dent to place kickers' pride. However impressive the precision of the likes of Dan Carter and the power of someone like Frans Steyn, their exploits will not ignite a stadium crowd like a well-worked try.

If you needed reminding, rugby union is increasingly an entertainment business and the sport faces an ongoing battle to attract new supporters, commercial investment and broadcast partners to fuel the further development of the game while also engaging those already converted.

Time for a name-change?

The old saying goes that cheaters never prosper but that's not quite the case when it comes to William Webb Ellis.

The former Rugby School pupil is said to have invented rugby union when he chose to run with the ball in his hands during a game of football.

Under the school's own rules for football, players were allowed to catch the ball but were not allowed to then run with it.

The story is set to feature in the opening ceremony of this year's tournament and the supposed site of his actions way back in 1823 is a key tourist attraction featuring a plaque and a statue – but unfortunately there is very little evidence to support his role in the creation of the sport.

Webb Ellis was not actually credited with inventing the sport until after his death and more than fifty years after the match that supposedly gave birth to rugby union. Efforts to substantiate those claims have since proved fruitless.

While Rugby School's place in the sport's history cannot be totally dismissed, with pupils having produced the first recognised set of rules for the game back in 1845, is it time to rethink the prominence of Webb Ellis?

The decision to name the trophy after Webb Ellis was taken ahead of the first World Cup in 1987 by the likes of former Rugby World Cup chairman John Kendall-Carpenter and ex-secretary of the International Rugby Board Bob Weighill.

The reason for them doing so despite clear evidence of his role in the history of the game is unclear and surely there is a more fitting figure after whom to name the sport's biggest prize?

Stade de Shocker

While the injury toll that Wales suffered at the Millennium Stadium dominated the headlines at the weekend it could so easily have been so much worse for France or Scotland in Paris.

The French hardly set the world alight in their final hit out ahead of the World Cup against the brave and bullish Scots but their shortcomings were nothing compared to those of the pitch at the Stade de France.

The playing surface was quite simply disgraceful.

As fragile as tissue paper, it gave way time and time again at scrum time and in doing so jeopardised the safety of all the players vying in vain for a foothold.

Those players got lucky – and so did the sport.

The power and pressure within a scrum at the elite level of the game is immense and especially so on Saturday night where the set-piece contained giants of the game like Louis Picamoles, Pascal Pape, Ross Ford and Richie Gray.

It would not have been too surprising to see referee Wayne Barnes call for uncontested scrums in order to ensure the player's safety – and save the Stade de France ground staff and the French Rugby Federation some embarrassment.

Given World Rugby's very vocal prioritisation of player welfare, the events that unfolded in Paris are unlikely to go unnoticed and assurances will surely be sought that a repeat will not occur in next year's Six Nations.

Loose Pass is compiled by former scrum.com editor Graham Jenkins

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