Its a try so Stop the Clock

Ever since time-keeping in rugby union was taken off the referee and put into the hands of someone on the touchline some matches have inevitably ended in an unsatisfactory manner.
At the end of Wales’s victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last season why did referee Glen Jackson waste seconds at the end by trying to hear via his earpiece how many seconds were left on the clock after Finn Russell’s conversion had reduced the home side’s deficit to three points.
When Russell’s conversion went over there were some seven seconds remaining, which would have been eaten up by the time Wales reached the halfway line. Jackson blew for full time, much to the disgust of Scotland who felt there was time for the restart.

Rugby union uses the countdown clock, which gives players, spectators and the television audience certainty – most of the time. Football uses a different method, one which keeps the referee in charge of time by declaring what the minimum period for stoppages will be. (Plus of course any “Fergie Time”.). That would be harder in rugby because some halves go 10 or more minutes over the 40; a minimum of five or six could easily swell to nine or ten with more stoppages – generating confusion rather than clarity.

Time-keeping has developed in the professional era so that, for example, when scrums keep dropping and the referee feels the need to have a word with the front rows, the clock stops; the same when players are replaced.
Yet it keeps ticking when a kicker is lining up a conversion even though the ball is, to all intents and purposes,dead;all the opposition can do is try to charge it down but they cannot take possession. Why does the clock not stop when a try has been scored? There were nine tries in the England /Scotland match last March, which effectively meant some nine minutes were eaten up by conversion attempts.
Once a try is scored the ball is dead and the clock should be stopped until the restart is taken.
Mike Miles

Exiles to Pro12?

The bottom two places of the Pro12 are currently occupied by the Italian teams Zebre and Benetton Treviso. Treviso hasn’t won a single game in their last 26 attempts. The chances are Zebre will finish 11th this season in the Pro12, and yet that will still entitle them to a place in next year’s Champions Cup as the top-placed Italian team.

But this is not a discussion about the Champions Cup supposedly being for the top European sides. No, that can wait for another day. Except to say that until the Italian sides earn the right for a place in the Champions Cup through their Pro12 listing, they might gain more from playing in the Challenge Cup.

There have been stories circulating in the rugby press that London Scottish and London Welsh could join the Pro12. Both teams currently play in the Championship, though it must be said, neither looks like threatening to make it to this season’s play-offs.
Nevertheless, the supporter catchment area for these clubs is huge, based, as they both are, in south-west London, with the attendant commercial power there to be utilised. There are no Pro12 teams in the quarter-finals of this year’s Champions Cup, so if that competition is serious about making it back to Europe’s top table they need to be playing competitive rugby week in, week out, and not travelling halfway across Europe for what is essentially a training match.
Greater London is an enormous potential market, and with good transport links. For the Welsh regions it’s a couple of hours up the M4, and for the Irish and Scots a 60-minute hop by plane.
Attendances in Wales and Scotland, local derbies apart, continue to be disappointing. The Welsh have never really loved their regions, and the Scottish cities are football-dominated. Edinburgh v London Scottish would be a huge draw, as would Cardiff Blues v London Welsh. Such fixtures would be welcomed by fans, sponsors and broadcasters.
So by adding two London-based teams with a rich Celtic heritage the league will add to its audience significantly, while ushering in the possibility of some of the exiles currently playing in the Aviva Premiership.
Currently the Pro12 is a Celtic league, with a couple of Italian passengers hanging on by the fingertips. The Celtic league needs a boost from somewhere – a bit more Celticness might just provide that.

Mike Miles