Rugby Park Hamilton
Saturday 23/9/00, 2:35 pm
Paddy O'Brien (Southland)
What a game! A bit of a unique opportunity for most players. For Canterbury, a chance to actually win against Waikato for the first time in several seasons. For a number of the Canterbury team a chance to play their first shield game, and for even more, a chance to win it!
And for Paddy, a chance to Referee a game where the shield actually changed hands. I hate to think how many shield games he has refereed, but it is a measure of the Ranfurly Shields recent history that it has remained with each holder for some time!
Apart from the awesome game, I have very few comments to make about Mr. O'Brien's game.
Paddy displayed his normal efficient and effective refereeing style, once again confirming the gap between he, Colin Hawke and the rest of New Zealand's referee talent.
Paddy is still 2nd, but I was glad to see him trying something new during the game.
Apart from his excellent advantage play and his normally fine handling of foul play, Mr. O'Brien tried a new angle with the front rows.
He actually complimented them when the scrummed well.
By "well" I don't mean your normal well, which is completely annihilating the opposition front row or entire scrum. No Paddy was congratulating them whenever they packed down squarely and fairly.
You should know by now my opinion of the intelligence of front rows, but I think that the real advantage with this method is its surprise value.
How often in a front rower's life have they been told "Well done! You scrummed very cleanly that last time, keep it up!" Maybe the last time their coach had a mental breakdown?!?
It must have had the desired effect as there were no scrum penalties in the second half!
If this effect were longer term, it would certainly make the referees happy. Might make the game a bit boring though (no pun intended).
Where would we be without a good fair scrum where the opposition is completely screwed. Of course the problem is the "good fair" part. Some people would have you believe that these words have no place in any sentence involving the word scrum.
Of course there is no doubt that we saw a good fair game, and a fair amount of good will be done to the CRFU's coffers this weekend by reopening the embankment for the Otago challenge.
If I wasn't heading deep into Otago territory for the weekend, I would be there myself!
And finally for people who feel they paid too much to view a Super 12, or Test match this year... the one off embankment cost is $10 for adults, and $5 for children!
And no there is no truth to the rumour that this is to encourage Otago fans to fork out for tickets!
(I strenuously deny it !-)