Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

15th July 2014 09:19

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Stuck in the middle: Warren Gatland

Welcome to Loose Pass, our weekly collection of parochial country-club sit-downs, gentlemen's club dinners and back-garden barbecues.

This week we will mostly be tucking into last week's law question, the catcalls around the valleys and a new world record of a classic coarse rugby nature...

To all those who responded to last week's law question: a resounding thank you. It appears the majority of you know your stuff too.

Here is what a referee friend of mine had to say:

"I wouldn't have given it as it just seems to me to be against the spirit of the game and the laws managing the contact and method of play to hurdle a tackle and player like that.... it's not as though he's skipping over an outstretched arm for a tap tackle is it?

"But that said, there is nothing in the law that directly says you can't. Jumping into a tackle is illegal because it is dangerous, but there the law is trying to stop people wilfully jumping at one another, for obvious reasons. This is hardly a case of jumping into a tackle, more jumping over it.... and there is absolutely no contact, so it's not materially dangerous in itself.

"But I wouldn't like the precedent it sets for people trying to do it, the potential for injury and danger is too high. So I would have ruled it out for dangerous play."

So there you have it... one for the lawmakers to look at and issue some clarification on?


Rugby in Wales is on the brink. A stuttering national team looking short of ideas, the regions mostly under-performing, the asinine situation of a captain without a team to play for except the national team and the desperate uncertainty of what the regions will be able to offer their players ahead of the new season, or whether they will be able to fulfil their current commitments.

Most of the time, the solutions in Wales have been pretty obvious. This one looks much less so. The power stances have become entrenched. Regional Rugby Wales knows it has control over the players right now (so Warren Gatland would have next to no time with his players before internationals) while the WRU knows it has the money the regions need.

What is not clear is what each side wants. Paragraphs such as "Following receipt of a copy of the draft RSA with marked comments by Regional Rugby Wales the WRU responded in writing on Thursday 10 July with comments to the RRW amendments" indicate that there is a substantial document flying around somewhere which is near completion, but absolutely does not say what the sticking point truly is.

Welsh rugby regions have long since complained they feel unable to compete financially with their European counterparts while the WRU has made no secret of the fact it wants total control over the international players. Both aspects come down to sharing money, but both sides have forever wanted more.

The solution to this might have to come down to the two sides recognising that there just isn't the money for both to get what they want, and to compromise.

Once again, Warren Gatland stands in the middle. He must be wondering what he has to do to get his adopted union on the front foot.


A terrific tale of coarse rugby from Southern Germany this week, where regional league team Wurzburg set a world record for the smallest tournament of all time.

Here is the story, translated from the original...

It was never meant to be a record, as along with the hosts andNeckarsulm, Bamberg and Tubingen had wanted to come. But they both cancelled on the morning of the tournament and the hosts were able to press ahead with their 'smallest rugby tournament in the northern hemisphere' project.

Helping this was the fact that Neckarsulm arrived with only seven players, because several of the underland's more prominent sportspeople had to cancel on the basis of logistical problems caused by high blood alcohol levels. The hosts, also foreshortened with some injuries from the weekend before, were able to put out nine players, some of them weighing in at levels which called the validity of the project further into question.

So the work was done by the Wurzburger sport department: not only taking the opportunity to host the smallest rugby tournament in the world and thereby also lay on a huge party in the town, no, there was also the matter of the pitch: bonsai tree-style grass, and surrounded a half-metre from the side by asphalt, garnished with the occasional nailed-down hydrant lid. In the spirit of the project, it was a shame the pitch was refused, it would probably have reduced the number of participants even further.

The teams move out to a pitch on the outskirts of town, ironically not far from a graveyard, with long grass surrounded by some denser vegetation - possibly well fertilised through natural products as there were neither change rooms nor showers nor toilets.

The teams chalked out a huge pitch of 75m by 115m and played a sevens match of two periods of ten minutes, following that up with a notional second place playoff which did not last quite as long.

As Wurzburg weighed around two and a half times as much collectively as their opposition, they dominated the final pretty comprehensively, although Neckarsulm did manage, in the final minute of the second match, to score a try that got them a well-earned second place.

Man of the match was Neckarsulm's Johannes A., who not only demonstrated remarkable stationary skills, but also was equipped with enough lungsfull of air to direct a steady stream of advice to the referee.

With the world record safely under the belt, the Wurzburgers are now looking forward to next year, where they intend to both better the record and defend their title by playing the tournament completely alone.

Loose Pass compiled by former Planet Rugby Editor Danny Stephens

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