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Brigg Rover

Has Rugby League Improved since the early 70's

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On Boots and All Phil states the game underwent great change in structure in the early 70's and benefitted from it and moved on.

 

I wonder if this is true?

 

And on what basis do we judge if it has improved?

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I started watching in the mid eighties and the game is bettet now than then. The only thing i don't like is the demise of my club oldham.

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I suspect he was referring to the fact that divisions (and therefore P&R) was introduced in the early 70s, a couple of earlier attempts had been short lived after they caused big drops in attendances.

 

The previous system was failing and a divisional system, long wanted by the top clubs, and hated by the smaller clubs was seen as the answer.

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I suppose you should define "improved."  After all there were (are) those who like(d) competitive scrums.  There are those who liked the challenge at the PTB.  I recall Mick Naughton (a former ref)  walking through two opposing front rows and kicking their legs back.  The game was just as fast as it is today, but not for as long a periiod.  There were a lot more scrums, and consequently a lot more penalties and a lot more stoppages, but between the stoppages were passages of very open play.  Fev slaughtered Bradford at Wembley in 1973 with some very attacking football, one of the tries was on the opening montage of Grandstand for years. Fev possessed some very skilled backs, like Steve Nash, but they also had some very hard scrummagers in Les Tonks, Keith Bridges, Vince Farrar and Jimmy Thompson.

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I suspect he was referring to the fact that divisions (and therefore P&R) was introduced in the early 70s, a couple of earlier attempts had been short lived after they caused big drops in attendances.

 

The previous system was failing and a divisional system, long wanted by the top clubs, and hated by the smaller clubs was seen as the answer.

And then the sport was pretty much dead for the next 20 years.

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72/73 was I think the low point in terms of attendances since the war.Gates gradually improved from then on and began to rise more sharply in the late 80s/early 90s.

Was that due to the introduction of promotion/relegation ? I don't think so .More a combination of limited tackles bedding in and general return to watching live sport (soccer gates reached their post war lows in the late 70s I think).

A lot of people- my dad for instance-drifted away from regular attendance in the late 60s/early 70s as they felt they were watching a different game than the one they'd grown up with and relative to the late 50s/early 60s it was just not as good.

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i have been watching the game for 50 years, and in my opinion the standard of play is generally now higher than it was then, just before super league came into existance the game as a whole was on it's backside with falling attendances and ramshackle stadia. the only thing that irks me is the over reliance on antipodean players at the expense of promising young british players,

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I suppose you should define "improved."  After all there were (are) those who like(d) competitive scrums.  There are those who liked the challenge at the PTB.  I recall Mick Naughton (a former ref)  walking through two opposing front rows and kicking their legs back.  The game was just as fast as it is today, but not for as long a periiod.  There were a lot more scrums, and consequently a lot more penalties and a lot more stoppages, but between the stoppages were passages of very open play.  Fev slaughtered Bradford at Wembley in 1973 with some very attacking football, one of the tries was on the opening montage of Grandstand for years. Fev possessed some very skilled backs, like Steve Nash, but they also had some very hard scrummagers in Les Tonks, Keith Bridges, Vince Farrar and Jimmy Thompson.

 

You would have to bring that up (just two days away from its 40th anniversary) - I was just about getting over it!!!

 

I was 14 years old and it was my first trip to Wembley.  I had never looked forward to a game so much only to be desperately disappointed by Bradford's lacklustre display and ultimate whalloping - it was a long coach ride home.

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And then the sport was pretty much dead for the next 20 years.

Where does everyone get the idea the sport was dead from the 70's till 1996.

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72/73 was I think the low point in terms of attendances since the war.Gates gradually improved from then on and began to rise more sharply in the late 80s/early 90s.

Was that due to the introduction of promotion/relegation ? I don't think so .More a combination of limited tackles bedding in and general return to watching live sport (soccer gates reached their post war lows in the late 70s I think).

A lot of people- my dad for instance-drifted away from regular attendance in the late 60s/early 70s as they felt they were watching a different game than the one they'd grown up with and relative to the late 50s/early 60s it was just not as good.

Is there a coincidence that the period where you state the crowds started to improve also relates to the BARLA boom if so does this also indicate that a healthy amateur game at all levels (including pub teams) is good for the professional game.

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I suppose you should define "improved."  After all there were (are) those who like(d) competitive scrums.  There are those who liked the challenge at the PTB.  I recall Mick Naughton (a former ref)  walking through two opposing front rows and kicking their legs back.  The game was just as fast as it is today, but not for as long a periiod.  There were a lot more scrums, and consequently a lot more penalties and a lot more stoppages, but between the stoppages were passages of very open play.  Fev slaughtered Bradford at Wembley in 1973 with some very attacking football, one of the tries was on the opening montage of Grandstand for years. Fev possessed some very skilled backs, like Steve Nash, but they also had some very hard scrummagers in Les Tonks, Keith Bridges, Vince Farrar and Jimmy Thompson.

I love watching the old games and still marvel at some of the ball handling skills and support play, I loved the old game but I also realise with the improved fitness things had to change, I'd like to think the rules today would suit my style of play :)

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i have been watching the game for 50 years, and in my opinion the standard of play is generally now higher than it was then, just before super league came into existance the game as a whole was on it's backside with falling attendances and ramshackle stadia. the only thing that irks me is the over reliance on antipodean players at the expense of promising young british players,

 

The game is certainly faster and the fitness levels higher than in the past but i don't think there is the range of skills on display that there used to be for me.

 

I don't hardly ever see a halfback who could tie players in knots with dazzling sidesteps as in the past. Nor do i see creative ball handling loose forwards who had a range of skills, long passes, short passes, offloads, sidesteps and downright line busting brute force and who usually had an almost telepathic partnership with thier half backs.

 

I see an occasional dummy today but in the past there were backs who could fake defenders out of their socks with a dummy pass. I also don;'t see the top class centre play whereby defenders were drawn in and the winger was given an unopposed running start at the opposition.

 

See film of Ashton and Boston playing together for a supreme example of this art.

 

The said wingers do not have the body swerve, the raw pace and arrogance to beat defenders once given an opening either like Offiah, Robinson ior Vollenhoven could.Ryan Hall is the only current winger with proper finishing skills. Back in the day you didn't play wing if you couldn't finish in the corner.

 

The defensive skills are not that great either. Some of the excuses for tackilng hese days are laughable, waving at the shoulders. Jimmy Thompson and other great tacklers took them low and they didn't rumble 15 yards with three defenders draped around their necks like they do now.

 

Full backs used to be deadly tacklers and wingers aften got nailed and forced into touch or a break in the middle of the field was often snuffed out by a strong early tackle. It dosn't happen now. Brent Webb and Tomkins would never have been full backs.

 

The one area the game has vastly changed is the attacking kicking. Back in the day there was none so, needless to say the game is better a that in the present.

 

As they say the past is viewed through rose tinted specatcles but for me some of the skills of the past wwere far superior than those of today.

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I have played and watched over the last 40 years and your judgement will always be based on your age when watching the game. from my own opinion the game is vastly improved, skills evolve to the game thats played.The comment on wingers is comical, the wingers now are far better finishers in the final Quarter but dont have the pace of other eras

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Players are fitter, stronger and have more tattoos than ever before.  They would be, they don't go to work all day and can spend all day taking steroids and body-building.

But it depends what you mean by 'better'.  Yes in the 70s it was played in ###### grounds in front of smaller crowds, on average, though not necessarily at the smaller clubs (York got 4000 occasionally then - 1000 is a dream now).

But in the 1970s they didn't get to within 30 yards of the line and simply boot it into the air, let everyone jump up and knock the ball to the floor, leaving the referee to decide if it's gone forward or a try has been scored (Warrington) (which simply has to be the worst development of the modern game?  Does anyone actually enjoy that?  Seriously?).

Wingers used to run and swerve and step and dummy and change pace and feint.  Now they catch it and put it down or hit and spin at best.  Their main job seems to be to take it up in their own 20.  Boring.

Props used to catch and pass and pop the ball off their chest to a supporting runner and actually bumped into people!  Now they wrestle a bit and go off after 20 minutes.  Boring.

Everyone on the field seems to be almost the same size.

Don't believe the hype.  Buy some DVDs of old games, sit back and enjoy the skills that were on show and be critical of this nonsense that rugby league was rubbish then and everything is glorious in the world now.

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The game now is worse to watch since real scrums and the 5m rule.

Too many blowouts and less skills

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This posted elsewhere  in another debate, may help. or not, the debate.

 

The chart shows aggregate attendances from 1977 to 2011 for all divisions plus the total.

 

AggregateAttendances.jpg

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To me it seems like the introduction of more and more South Sea islanders to the game has had a profound impact on the style of play and the amount of power in the game too. It's also been mirrored across the game globally with bigger and bigger players creating a more explosive style of rugby. The older footage, which is all I've got too base my opinion off, seemed less heavy in collisions and players seemed leaner and less muscle bound. I think that the need to 'bulk up' has been partially pronounced due to Pacific Island players being naturally bigger guys.

 

Again, I don't have any first hand experience of the 60's/70's, but it seems to be a game of terrific athletes now. Big, fast, powerful guys who have been on high performance programs since they were 12 or 13 and eating all the right foods to help their gym programs. Great for the man in the stand, but maybe more about the individual player nowadays and less about the institutions (clubs) then it used to be? Some of the soul has been sacrificed on the alter of money/entertainment.

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It never rained in summer either

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Where does everyone get the idea the sport was dead from the 70's till 1996.

I'm afraid its another case of, if you say it enough times then you convince yourself and others that it must be true

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Where does everyone get the idea the sport was dead from the 70's till 1996.

I think that's because a good number of us on here do not have your level of experience, commitment and involvement in the amateur game. I guess most of us are just thinking of the situation at the top level between the mid 60s and early 80s

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Speaking as a Huddersfield fan - the game was dead from the 70s to the 90s, my club was one of those unfortunate ones to be cut adrift and suffer a long protracted slide to near death

And I remember games from the late 70s. They were terrible affairs. Even these "brilliant" cup finals. Good players were made to look like gods by utterly utterly awful defending, weak tackling and poor play

If you want contested scrums and the 5m rule you can have it, I think there is some Rugby Union on sky this afternoon

And I don't know about other posters but I watch games each week and see dummying, swerving, changes of pace and guile constantly. I also see disciplined defence that is far more alert for such things, is more drilled in its teamwork and is a much tougher game

Some of these posters suggesting all was wonderful and sepia tinted halcyon days should actually watch their old DVDs as such with an open mind

Maybe, just maybe they will see just how much better the game is now.

But I doubt it.

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Speaking as a Huddersfield fan - the game was dead from the 70s to the 90s, my club was one of those unfortunate ones to be cut adrift and suffer a long protracted slide to near death

And I remember games from the late 70s. They were terrible affairs. Even these "brilliant" cup finals. Good players were made to look like gods by utterly utterly awful defending, weak tackling and poor play

If you want contested scrums and the 5m rule you can have it, I think there is some Rugby Union on sky this afternoon

And I don't know about other posters but I watch games each week and see dummying, swerving, changes of pace and guile constantly. I also see disciplined defence that is far more alert for such things, is more drilled in its teamwork and is a much tougher game

Some of these posters suggesting all was wonderful and sepia tinted halcyon days should actually watch their old DVDs as such with an open mind

Maybe, just maybe they will see just how much better the game is now.

But I doubt it.

 

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

The game is still attractive and way better than RU and contested scrums were a nightmare, but todays players do not have the range of individual skills that yesterdays players did. As for defence. Some of the tackling today is mind boggling weak. The tackles whereby a players legs are taken away bringing him to an immediate halt can be counted on one hand. I see players hit by two defenders, both going high, 20yds out and then carrying these defenders 15 yards to where they practically score. What kind of defending is that.?

 

I agree with the poster who bemoans the rise of the kick to the corner as a major component of try scoring. Yes there are skillful kickers and players who can jump and contest these kicks and those who can defuse them better than others but mainly its a lottery with a great deal of luck versus a little skill and not a very attractive element of the game as far as I personally am concerned. However without this element the game would be very one dimensional as the routine plays in the first five tackles are monotonously similar from both teams due to the decline in attacking skills about which I have posted.

 

Yes, I have watched films of past games and the skills on display are greater. Check out some footage for instance of Paul Loughin at St Helens and the way he created running opportunities for his wingers. He made a star out of Quirk. Newlove also was no slouch in that department.

 

Check out some footage of Alex Murphy or Hardisty or Roger Millward at their best, their creativety and instinctive eye for an opening or an interception or their use of phenominal acceleration to go through a gap was amazing. Most halfbacks today have little or no pace. Maguire is the one exception that I have seen and maybe Dureau at Catalans.

 

Check out Harry Pinner, Harry Poole, working their magic at loose forward. It should be easier today with the 10 metre rule but there are no exponents of this lost art around.

 

Yes the Pacific Islanders are great Rugby players and their combination of speed and strength is awesome but check out David Ward, David Jeanes, David Mills at their pomp. They broke tackles and made breaks far more often than the modern props.

 

I also don't think the rule/law change whereby you could run from acting halfback with impunity did anything to encourage creative attacking play either. Is the scoot a really dynamic attacking option. Back in the day if you ran from acting halfback and were tackled it was a scrum. It encouraged more passing and complex attacking options. If you ran from acting half then the play had better by creative and damaging to the opposition or else you coughed up the ball. The dead before it started plunge fro acting half to gain a boring 10 yards of ground was not an option.

 

Having said all that the game is still a great game and better than any other form of Rugby that deludes itself on it's attractiveness.

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Speaking as a Huddersfield fan - the game was dead from the 70s to the 90s, my club was one of those unfortunate ones to be cut adrift and suffer a long protracted slide to near death

And I remember games from the late 70s. They were terrible affairs. Even these "brilliant" cup finals. Good players were made to look like gods by utterly utterly awful defending, weak tackling and poor play

If you want contested scrums and the 5m rule you can have it, I think there is some Rugby Union on sky this afternoon

And I don't know about other posters but I watch games each week and see dummying, swerving, changes of pace and guile constantly. I also see disciplined defence that is far more alert for such things, is more drilled in its teamwork and is a much tougher game

Some of these posters suggesting all was wonderful and sepia tinted halcyon days should actually watch their old DVDs as such with an open mind

Maybe, just maybe they will see just how much better the game is now.

But I doubt it.

Makes you wonder if it was the game or bad management at Huddersfield way back then, I also wonder if Huddersfield had not been a chosen location would they just be like Halifax or even deeper in the mire.

 

 

Not back for the 80's  :)

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

The game is still attractive and way better than RU and contested scrums were a nightmare, but todays players do not have the range of individual skills that yesterdays players did. As for defence. Some of the tackling today is mind boggling weak. The tackles whereby a players legs are taken away bringing him to an immediate halt can be counted on one hand. I see players hit by two defenders, both going high, 20yds out and then carrying these defenders 15 yards to where they practically score. What kind of defending is that.?

 

I agree with the poster who bemoans the rise of the kick to the corner as a major component of try scoring. Yes there are skillful kickers and players who can jump and contest these kicks and those who can defuse them better than others but mainly its a lottery with a great deal of luck versus a little skill and not a very attractive element of the game as far as I personally am concerned. However without this element the game would be very one dimensional as the routine plays in the first five tackles are monotonously similar from both teams due to the decline in attacking skills about which I have posted.

 

Yes, I have watched films of past games and the skills on display are greater. Check out some footage for instance of Paul Loughin at St Helens and the way he created running opportunities for his wingers. He made a star out of Quirk. Newlove also was no slouch in that department.

 

Check out some footage of Alex Murphy or Hardisty or Roger Millward at their best, their creativety and instinctive eye for an opening or an interception or their use of phenominal acceleration to go through a gap was amazing. Most halfbacks today have little or no pace. Maguire is the one exception that I have seen and maybe Dureau at Catalans.

 

Check out Harry Pinner, Harry Poole, working their magic at loose forward. It should be easier today with the 10 metre rule but there are no exponents of this lost art around.

 

Yes the Pacific Islanders are great Rugby players and their combination of speed and strength is awesome but check out David Ward, David Jeanes, David Mills at their pomp. They broke tackles and made breaks far more often than the modern props.

 

I also don't think the rule/law change whereby you could run from acting halfback with impunity did anything to encourage creative attacking play either. Is the scoot a really dynamic attacking option. Back in the day if you ran from acting halfback and were tackled it was a scrum. It encouraged more passing and complex attacking options. If you ran from acting half then the play had better by creative and damaging to the opposition or else you coughed up the ball. The dead before it started plunge fro acting half to gain a boring 10 yards of ground was not an option.

 

Having said all that the game is still a great game and better than any other form of Rugby that deludes itself on it's attractiveness.

I'll add another great wide runner (even thought it pains me) Phil Lowe.

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I think that's because a good number of us on here do not have your level of experience, commitment and involvement in the amateur game. I guess most of us are just thinking of the situation at the top level between the mid 60s and early 80s

 

Many people today decry BARLA and I am not in a position to know the present day circumstances but I started playing RL in the Halifax and district league ( pre Pennine) in the 1964/5 and at that time amateur RL was dying. The RFL could care less and the game seemed to be in terminal decline. Fast forward to BARLA and amateur RL boomed, teams were starting up everywhere, junior rugby mushroomed, the game expanded for the first time to the midlands and Wales. BARLA carried the fight to RU about denial of the game in the services and the ban on amateur rl players from playing union and vice versa. They were instrumental in fostering the game in the Universities, which was important as the number of such institutions mushroomed in the UK. The amateur international teams were revitalized and tours were made to the pacific islands, Russia and elsewhere, nothing like that had ever previously taken place or even been contemplated.

 

Whatever the situation today, the game owes a great debt to BARLA.

 

I would say that BARLA saved not only the amateur game but laid the foundation and player production lines that went towards the renaissance of the pro game after it reached it's nadir in the early 70,s

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