Rugby analyst and SA Rugby Magazine’s Zelim Nel’s ‘forward pass’ video has been labelled irresponsible by South African referee Stuart Berry. Nel’s insistence is that the need for more tries means the acceptance of more forward passes. Which is it? asks Mark Keohane.
I’ve known Zelim Nel for a long time and the two things that trigger an immediate response with him. The first is when someone disputes the value or the role of kicking in rugby. The second is the forward pass and how every game has several forward passes that go undetected or excused in the name of science.
The irritation on forward passes and seeing at least three a match rewarded with tries in the Trans-Tasman rugby version of exhibition basketball, prompted Nel to illustrate, by way of a video, how many balls go forward in a rugby match and how few passes ever get called forward and then how some get called forward that were the equal of those that weren’t called forward by another referee and TMO in another match.
Nel headlined his video: The truth behind forward passes. He asked the question: ‘Are passes forced forward by irresistible inertia? Or is that just the excuse given to pump up the average number of tries?’
UCT scrum coach Tank Lanning, on his Twitter handle Front Row Grunt agreed with Nel: ‘Why so many forward passes these days? Why over complicate something that is so simple? More to do with marketing than science perhaps? Great clip …’
Berry didn’t agree: ‘This really doesn’t do any good. If anything, this video is based on marketing and ignore science. It’s a very poor and, to be honest, irresponsible video. p=mv is science.
The Twitter discussion showed there wasn’t any middle ground. Many agree that Nel has nailed the issue of forward passes and others are aligned with Berry.
Nel, in a recent screenshot, highlighted Siya Kolisi’s try for the Sharks against the Bulls last weekend. This was referred to the TMO by the referee. The TMO was Berry who said there was no evidence of the ball going forward.
Nel disagrees. In his screenshot he highlights by way of a red dot where Kolisi was positioned when the ball was offloaded and a yellow dot where Kolisi was when he received the ball.