Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Howley shares Hansen's concerns

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley believes that New Zealand supremo Steve Hansen is "spot-on" with his calls for collective responsibility being required in an attempt to make rugby union more of an attacking spectacle.

In an interview with Wales Online this week, All Blacks head coach and former Wales chief Hansen said he had "big concerns" about rugby at the moment.

"There are not enough tries being scored, which is turning the fans away," he said.

"I think there is a responsibility on the coaches and the players as well. We are trying to get defensive lines up really quickly, but I think we've probably gone too far with it.

"There's a responsibility to the game. If we don't do that, then we are not going to have any running rugby."

Hansen was in Europe last weekend, watching the RBS 6 Nations Tests between France and Wales in Paris, followed by a trip to Dublin for Ireland's appointment with England.

"There were only three tries scored in the two games I went to over the weekend," he added.

"No one is prepared to take the risk because they are going to get belted behind the advantage line if they move the ball.

"If we want to encourage people to watch the game, then scoring tries is what does that.

"We are about to go into a showpiece for the sport at the World Cup. There are going to be millions and millions of people watching it, and then all you are going to see is people kick goals."

Speaking on Thursday at Wales' training base, Howley stressed the importance of rugby's offside law being rigorously policed.

"The attacks are dictated by defence," Howley said.

"Line speed over the last five years in international rugby has increased. Everyone is so much quicker and more powerful.

"Having read the article by Steve, it's spot-on in terms of everyone having a responsibility - players, coaches, the referees and touch-judges.

"If you go away and have a look at the lineout, the best chance we can have to attack is the 20 yards between opposition back-lines.

"And when you look at defences, the touch-judges can have a huge influence. For me, I would say the defensive back-line cannot move until the ball is in the scrum-half's hands.

"If you actually look, defences are coming up and all of a sudden the gap is narrowed. It's not 20 yards, it's not 14 yards, it's 10 yards.

"That, as a back-line, gives you the ability only to get the ball so far. I would love to do a miss-one (move) and a miss-three and get the ball out in a wide channel. But with modern-day defences, it's about trying to create that space.

"How do you create it? With a kicking game. You earn the right to go wide with your kicking game.

"When you have defences coming up so hard and so quick closing down space, you have to earn the right to play. The key to any international game now is to use an accurate kicking game.

"I can see where Steve is coming from, and it's a bug-bear of mine when you see it at the lineout when you are meant to have 20 yards of space and touch-judges are supposed to look at the defensive alignment."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph