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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Saturday March 08 2008

I’m watching the rugby.  The closing stages of France v England a fortnight ago were pleasing for England, because they – we - won, but dull for a neutral and infuriating for the French, because there was nothing the rules allowed them to do.  They just had to wait for the England forwards to make a mistake, which they didn’t.  That all this happened on the French line and that England finally got a try only disguised the basic dullness of what was happening.

The problem is the “loose”.  If a team is trying to run down the clock, the bloke with the ball can just bludgeon forwards for a yard or two, fall to the ground, hand the ball backwards to the fellows behind, who can then stop everything just as it’s about to come out into open play, and repeat at will.  At the point when the ball is just about to come out of the scrum, there’s nothing the non-possessing team are allowed to do about it, and nothing the possessing team – you can’t call them “attacking” - is obliged to do about it.

And now Wales have just done the exact same thing at the very end of their game against Ireland.  What should have been an enthralling finish, with Ireland desperately trying to score a try and turn it around, instead became a simple matter of waiting for 80.00 to show up on the timer in the top left corner of the TV screen, as the Welsh forwards took it in turns to bludgeon and hand back, hold, bludgeon and hand back, hold, etc. etc. etc., boring boring boring. 

Don’t ask me to explain the details of what the rules are now and why they allow all this, but they will surely have to be changed to stop this tedium.

UPDATE: At the end of the Scotland England game it looked as if Scotland were about to do the exact same thing, but being a bad side, and what with it being very wet and all, they couldn’t do it.  Instead they had to rely on England’s subsequent and final attack failing.  Since all previous England attacks for the last hour or more had failed, this was a good bet and Scotland duly won, because they had a better goalkicker than England.  England’s lack of attacking punch means that the knives will now surely be out for Ashton.  England only seem to be able to play well nowadays when nothing is expected of them.

I reckon Ashton’s basic problem is that on telly, he just looks like an old grump.  So, people reckon he can’t be very inspiring, even if he is, and even if, actually, the players can do their own self-inspiring.  At least Woodward looked a little bit stylish and vaguely happy.  What’s the betting Ashton’s replacement, if they decide to have one, is a foreigner?