So I have had a couple of days to think about what happened on Friday night at the Rec and I am still angry for several reasons.
The first and maybe most important reason is that we failed to kill off a game with three chances. Now, I am not laying the blame solely at the golden boot of our little maestro this season George Ford as both drop goals seemed to be taken very early and a lack of composure/confidence in our own ability to secure the ball and get him into a better position with a little more safety may have helped. I would rather watch Fordy run the game at the gainline so superbly as he has done this season than watch the robotic figure of Owen Farrell at Sarries, but that being said 'Faz' I think would have seen that game off. This maybe down to the amount of international time he has had to develop that international state of mind - So Mr Lancaster give George more time please.
The second reason for my anger/frustration is what everyone was talking about after the game - myself included, and there are a number of things to think about. I think a big finger needs to be pointed at our stand in captain of the time Dave Atwood (who i rate highly for the record) and I will come back to why shortly.
Thanks to the wonderful world we live in and the beauty of social media and technology I was able to get confirmation from two well respected referees Jonathan Kaplan and Nigel Owens about why the penalty try was not given. According to both of them the old rule of persistent repetition of rule breaking is not enough for the referee to go under the sticks for the penalty try, the rule states that probability must be brought into the referees decision making. Therefore if Bath had been pushing the scrum back and it was collapsing then the referee could give a PT, but Sale were collapsing before the 2nd push was coming after the hit and stopping it from going back, and even when the push did come it was being wheeled and popping up causing reset.
Mike Ford after the game made a great point, how can a scrum go back if it was continually being brought down?! My argument to mr Dean Richards would be this, because the Sale scrum was under so much pressure and forced to being brought down, surely that was increasing the probability of Bath scoring had the scrum stayed up?!
So for arguments sake the 14 minute 5 meter line debacle could have gone on until the entire front row had been sin binned and we went to uncontested scrums.
So this is now why I look at our decision making and leadership. The only reason I can think that we took scrum after scrum is because we felt we had the advantage and were going to get the penalty try, why didn't stand in skipper Atwood simply ask the referee for confirmation as to what needed to happen for it to turn to a penalty try. As soon as the referee gave the indication that the scrum would need to go forward we could argue that we weren't being allowed to OR change the plan and go for the lineout and drive over. This could have gone on for the duration of the half and still not seen the penalty try given.
On another point the IRB need to change the scrum somehow, it is killing the game. 14 minutes on a scrum (8 minutes of gametime) is too long, despite how tense it made the situation for a rugby purist - imagine the thought process of a casual viewer or maybe somebody taking their children to their first rugby game. Its the equivalent of watching a corner be reset for 8 minutes in football or a golfer spending 14 minutes to lineup a shot. It is dull and they need to come up with a solution, one idea is that the first time a scrum is reset the clock goes off and it only comes back on when the ball has left the scrum and therefore the scrum is completed. Any other ideas should be sent to the IRB as this is a case and study of why the scrum laws are wrong at the moment.
At the end of the day we should have been smarter and it will undoubtedly be a learning experience for Mike Ford and the boys, but when you get the opposition director of rugby admit we were unlucky not to get more out of that you know you have been unfortunate. Teams will employ this sort of anti rugby tactic against us as we want to play an expansive brand so we must learn to have other strategies. Confirmation needs to be clear on certain rules for players and supporters to prevent the scrum fiasco from stopping our beautiful game becoming ugly! Onto Brive...