Rugby

High time conversion charge downs were consigned to history – RugbyPass


George Ford’s conversion-that-never-was triggered a cascade of booing around Twickenham and some impassioned debate afterwards.

The controversy swirled around whether the England stand-off had started his run-up or not when Rio Dyer and Elliot Dee charged the kick.

Was Ford’s movement just a Time Warp-style jump to the left or was it the beginning of his actual approach?

The Fordy Horror Show has been a noisy enough discussion point as it is but just imagine if England had lost to Wales by a point instead of winning by two.

Which begs the question of whether conversion charge downs should be part of rugby union at all.

They are there because they have always been there but why exactly?

Ford was adjudged to have started his run-up when he moved sideways at the start of his routine (Photo Dan Mullan – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

It is inconsistent, surely, that players are allowed to charge a conversion but not a penalty kick.

Spectators tuning in to rugby union for the first time from one of Jupiter’s watery moons would certainly be perplexed.

Stationary humanoid form in one scenario; dynamic humanoid in parallel scenario.

Failure to compute.

Rugby union sometimes seems to take a perverse pride in its impenetrability but an incompatibility like this adds unnecessarily to its complexity.

Since 1894, when the try first leapfrogged it in terms of value, the conversion has had to deal with its own declining relative importance. It has lived with that just as it has the implementation of the shot clock.

So why not just do away with it?

The conversion has been on a journey throughout the game’s history.

Back in the 19th Century it used to be the big deal in rugby.

Touching the ball down over the goal line was merely the set-up to ‘try’ for a kick at goal. And goals decided who won the game.

When the first points scoring system was introduced in 1886 the conversion was awarded two points and the try one which showed where the balance of power still lay.

But since 1894, when the try first leapfrogged it in terms of value, the conversion has had to deal with its own declining relative importance.

It has lived with that just as it has the implementation of the shot clock.

Wales
Teams will stop at nothing for marginal gains and the conversion chargedown is ripe with opportunity (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Back in the 19th Century it used to be the big deal in rugby.

Touching the ball down over the goal line was merely the set-up to ‘try’ for a kick at goal. And goals decided who won the game.

When the first points scoring system was introduced in 1886 the conversion was awarded two points and the try one which showed where the balance of power still lay.

But since 1894, when the try first leapfrogged it in terms of value, the conversion has had to deal with its own declining relative importance.

It has lived with that just as it has the implementation of the shot clock.

It has proved it can adapt.

The law surrounding charging a conversion has been a moveable feast too.

The ball used to be held in place for a kicker by a teammate with players allowed to charge as soon as the ball made contact with the ground.

In 1958 changes were applied to put the brakes on the chargers. They had to stay in their blocks until the kicker’s run-up began.

This had the effect of making the placer redundant – except when it was blowing a gale.

It was Ford’s attempt to eat up his full allocation of 90 seconds on the shot clock in order to run down England’s sin-bin slammer time which precipitated the issue at Twickenham. It served to draw attention to him and put any movement under the microscope.

The unintended consequence was having to decide when a kicker had begun their run-up and therefore what constituted a green light for the greyhounds behind the goal line to go.

The relevant law states: “All players retire to the goal line and do not overstep that line until the kicker begins the approach to kick.

“When the kicker does this, they may charge or jump to prevent a goal.”

But the decision is so subjective.

On Saturday referee James Doleman ruled that Ford’s sidestep – away from the posts though it may have been – marked the beginning of his approach.

A perplexed Ford argued otherwise afterwards, claiming he was going to have to stand like a statue in future.

It was Ford’s attempt to eat up his full allocation of 90 seconds on the shot clock in order to run down England’s sin-bin slammer time which precipitated the issue at Twickenham.

It served to draw attention to him and put any movement under the microscope.

In the circumstances it was hard to feel too much sympathy with Ford.

Cheslin Kolbe charges down Thomas Ramos
Cheslin Kolbe’s charge down of Thomas Ramos’ conversion proved a key moment in the outcome of their RWC 2023 contest (Photo Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

But referees have enough on their plates anyway with actual rugby decisions rather than having to rule on games of non-musical statues. Officials would be better off if they never had to be put in this position.

Rugby league requires defending players to remain behind the goal line for all kicks at goal.

Union should follow its lead. The charge down is more trouble than it is worth.

Attempting one may keep wingers warm on cold winter’s days when they are seeing little of the ball but in general they are futile.

When they are successful, all hell tends to break loose.

Rugby union is a game of shades of grey, not black and white, and there will always be contentious areas but charge down kicker twitches it can do without.

Remember Cheslin Kolbe and the World Cup quarter-final?

France full-back Thomas Ramos will argue until his dying day that Kolbe jumped the gun on his conversion charge down.

Referee Ben O’Keeffe ruled otherwise, the chance of two points went begging and South Africa prevailed 29-28.

The furore was predictable.

Rugby union is a game of shades of grey, not black and white, and there will always be contentious areas but charge down kicker twitches it can do without.

Penalty charge downs were outlawed in 1925. Ninety-nine years on, it is high time the conversion equivalent went the same way.





Source link

Ellis Wilder

Hey there! My name is Ellis Wilder, and I'm a student at the University of Calgary. When I'm not hitting the books, you can usually find me writing articles for sports and travel blogs. I've always had a passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures, so I love sharing my travel stories with others. Whether I'm hiking in the Rocky Mountains or exploring a new city, I always try to capture the essence of the places I visit in my writing. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button