Shaun Edwards, English rugby union coach and former rugby league player, shared his thoughts about how the rigid system in rugby was not effective for the fans who enjoy watching rugby casually.
Edwards shared with the Daily Mail that the best advice sometimes comes from those who don’t really know about the game because they can point out something in a more neutral sense that they hadn’t even considered before.
As an example, Edwards told a story when he was still a player and encountered a loss. He shared how he met a guy who worked down at the running track who pointed out that Edwards was not as aggressive as he used to be.
The guy who told Edward about his performance didn’t know much about rugby, but Edwards admitted that the words got stuck in his mind and within a few months, he was back on the team.
Rugby referees and the rigid system
When Edwards had his friends around to watch the game, he found an interesting comment from one of them who didn’t watch many rugby matches but hovered between sports. The friend said that the problem with rugby is that the referees appear on TV more than the players do.
Edwards admitted that rugby is not an “easy” game to officiate, so he thought that the rugby referees might need more leeway on the red and yellow cards. “If you hit someone on the head it’s a red card. Obviously the game needs to be safe but I think the system is too rigid,” he said.
The strict formula around cards resulted in some protests from players to draw incidents to their attention. This matter concerned Edwards that too many players might appeal when there is a little bit of contact.
When asked how France won the Six Nations, Edwards stated that the team received no red or yellow cards. This condition was not only beneficial to the players, but it was also good to the fans who spend a lot of money to see the test match, therefore it’s only natural that most fans would want to see fewer cards in the game.
Edwards’ message for England fans
Through the Daily Mail, Edwards passed his message to England fans, saying that they should not be worried because they are not “too far away”. He continued by saying, “Eddie Jones is copping a lot of heat after a few defeats in a row but things can soon change. Trust me, I’ve been there.”
Edwards also mentioned his coaching time with Wales, where they lost 11 times in a row against Australia. However, he led the team’s comeback in the 2019 World Cup, where they finally defeated Australia twice at crucial times.
“England aren’t losing Test matches by 30 or 40 points. They’ve lost by relatively small margins, discounting the Baa-Baas game,” Edwards said.
Furthermore, Edwards noted that as simple as it may sound, the key to winning in international rugby is to avoid giving penalties to the opponent since that is when they will begin to catch up and attack.
The game has changed
Regarding the counter-attacking tries, Edwards remarked that the game has “changed” since the 1980s and 90s when loads of tries were scored and worth just as many points.
“There are more tries now than there have ever been in international rugby, but most of them are from mauls or pick-and-go,” Edwards said. “The players don’t celebrate any less just because they haven’t run the ball in from their own 22.”