Monday, 26 September 2011

What Football could learn from Rugby?

I'm one of those blokes who can watch any sport that comes on the TV. As long as I have an idea of how a team can win a game I'll sit and watch it. Baseball, American Football even Kabadi I will watch it. I like to pick out the best things in a sport and imagine how they might improve my favourite sport - Football. Watching the Rugby World Cup these past few weekend mornings has been brilliant. How great is it to wake up and be able to watch world class sport? And there are many things I think Football should adopt from Rugby immediately, most are to do with the referees.

1) Clock STOPS during a gameIt could be a substitue or a injury, but when the game stops the clock stops in Rugby. If football did then we won't get situations like we had on Saturday against Forest where players trotted off the pitch to time waste. In his post match interview with BBC 3CR Sean was very upset about the small amount of additional time given. In football 30 seconds is add to a game for every substitution no matter if they are 3 seconds of 40 seconds and the amount of time a ref adds is far too subjective at the moment.

Couldn't one of the referee assistants not be in charge of the clock?

2) A Sin BinWhen debating how well a ref has done I often talk about how well he has controlled the teams. In the last year I've become a primary school teacher and classroom management has been high on the agenda. I liked it when the two yellow's for a red card rule came into football, but on too many occasions I get a feeling that a ref isn't giving a second yellow card because the first one might have been a little weak and sending off a player would change the game too much. Don't even get me started on the lack of consistency in what gets you a yellow card.

I have 5 levels in my classroom and sending someone off (out of the classroom) is Level 5. At the moment ref's only have 3 levels.

1) Verbal warning
2) Yellow Card
3) 2nd Yellow + Red Card

A sin bin would add another level and give many players time to calm down and consider their actions and what they need to do to not be sent off. Plus a sin bin penalises a team/players for just a few minutes and not for the rest of the game.

3) Blood replacementGot an injury? Well get off and get someone else on for a bit of time. I particularly like this idea as Watford could send on Rene Gilmartin for five minutes up front to throw his weight around and cause the defence some issues! I know it won't happen as much football, but I still like the idea of weird subs coming on for a few minutes.

4) Losing/winning bonus pointsThere is part of me that thinks this is a weird thing in Rugby, but another part thinks it could give a fairer picture to how a game has gone. Why should Forest get the same points after beating us 1-0 this last Saturday as we got for beating Millwall 6-1 last season? And why should we continue to rub defeats in the face of unsuccessful teams just because they last by 1 goal? 

So I'm suggesting... 

4 points if a team wins by 3 or more goals
3 points for a win with a 1 or 2 goal advantage
2 points for a draw
1 point for a losing by just 1 goal
0 points for losing a game by 2 or more goals

Have a done the maths and figured out the exact impact of the league from this idea? No, but it's fun to debate isn't it?

Football is by far my favourite sport and I will argue till the end of time with anyone as to why. However, I'm not nieve to not know that it could still do with some improving.

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  1. There's certainly alot to be said for only allowing the captain to speak to the ref; any player tries it-booking for dissent. Don't think the referees would have the bottle for it though.

  2. I like the clock-stop idea, that would eliminate time-wasting (as seen on Saturday) at a stroke. I fear, however, that this could end up with games going on for around 15 minutes longer than the scheduled time (all those seconds for when the clock would stop for free kicks, the ball going out of play etc would quickly add up), which would play merry hell with the TV schedules which, let’s face it, dictate much of the game.

    The sin bin is also a good idea and has been used to good effect in five-a-side competitions that I have played in. I believe it is also used in some school football matches too (although as you’re a primary school teacher, Jon, you’d probably be best placed to comment on that). The rules on what would constitute a sin bin offence over a yellow card, though, would need to be very clearly defined and consistently enforced, which does not bode well given that, as you say, refs can be very inconsistent already.

    The winning bonus is perhaps more suited to a game like rugby where high numbers of points can be accumulated and points can be scored in different ways (tries, drop-goals, etc). In football, the margin of victory/defeat will show up in terms of goal difference.

    Another aspect of rugby that would benefit football is the respect shown towards officials. Too often in football we see six or seven players surrounding the referee to contest a decision; this simply does not happen in rugby. NLFG makes a good point about only the captain being allowed to speak to the ref in this respect.

    Finally, the quick and efficient use of TV technology in the case of disputed tries is also something that football should consider, but then debating the merits of goal-line technology is hardly a new thing...

  3. Time keeping is an interesting point, but I don't think it'll be a massive issue, unless you're looking at American sports, which are insane. Or exceptional games of rugby like the Premiership final which went on for 8 minutes over the 80 because, of course, play doesn't finish until the ball is out of play.

  4. Other things I would change (like in rugby):

    1. You don't talk to the Ref - he talks to you.

    2. The Ref talks to the captain only.

    3. Instant abuse or questioning of decision gets the ball taken forward 10 yards.

    4. Ref plays the advantage - if no advantage gained, it is brought back to original infringement. Ref declares when advantage is over.

    5. Injured players are treated on the pitch and match continues around them. In football, if player is not genuinely injured, his mates will soon give him stick for not getting up. If genuinely injured, then c'est la vie.

    6. Linesman ("Referees Assistant") - or should we now be calling them 'touch judges'? - have equal status in rugby to the ref on the pitch so can overall ref if they spot something off the ball.

    7. Use technology for any decision - not just goals.

    8. Players should be cited and banned after games if technology shows that something was missed by the ref during the game.

    Sin bin is great idea as are rolling blood substitutes. In my view, sending off the goalkeeper becomes punitive and ruins the game when penalty should be enough.