Monday, April 28, 2008

London Skolars v. Hunslet Hawks

Where the Hell is Hunslet? Well, apparently, it's near Leeds - dirty, dirty, dirty, Leeds, Leeds, Leeds - as David Peace would have it (I don't see a novel about the Hawks being forthcoming).

Their fans were a disgrace, non-stop abuse of the ref (including end of game chants accusing him of being a cheating bastard - now, I ask, at barely professional level, what possible incentive is there for any ref. to be crooked? Further, as some fo their fans acknowledge on their forum, they shouldn't have been in the position where a few referee decisions could even decide the match. As it was, as far as I could see, although he was a botehrsome and busy ref, be blew up for both sides, and both sides had tries disallowed. So, eitehr he's really cunning, or just a ref. trying to make split second decisions in what was a frantic and busy game.

Hunslet and London are the bottom two of the Second Dvision (Skolars were below hawks before Saturday). Their play seemed matched, and their deserve their relative (and probably also their absolute) positions in the table.

Skolars have certainly picked up their game, their passing was crisper, but they didn't lay off enough in attack - but they certainly showed guts in attack and defense.

They ran over some early tries, which the Hawks more or less had clawed back to lead at half time. the second half was a close affair, with the first try not coming until the end of the first quarter. Skolars squeaked a narrow lead, which last almost until the very end. A bit of nouse in this situation was lacking, they passed up a penalty that could have given them two points, and in the end ended up having a drop goal charged down.

The last try was something of a distraction, a clean break when the game was almost over anyway. the real score should have been a win by one point, that would have been justice. As it was, London Skolars 31 Hunslet Hawks 24,

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The cap fits?

I didn't watch any matches over the weekend, you can find your own results.

Anyway, what I was going to talk about was this: the Super League Table.

Note how the bulk of teams just over half of games are victories, and even the run away leaders are only a couple of games ahead of their next rivals (though look at the astounding points difference, Leeds have scored 326 while only conceding 116 - thats about giving away only 10 points a game).

Part of the closeness of the Super League is the Salary Cap (PDF):
There are 2 principal purposes of The Super League Salary Cap. The first is to restrict clubs’ main item of expenditure, players’ costs, to try and ensure, as far as possible, the long-term financial survival of rugby league clubs.

The second purpose is to improve the competitiveness of the League by restricting to a finite level of how much one club can spend on its playing staff.
Now, obviously, the former is anti-competetive since it has the stated aim of controlling players salaries, but note, the £1.6 million cap does not restrict the actual individual salary, but only the total. In doing so, it means that clubs faxce a choice between building a broad side, or paying for a very expensive star.

The effect is to impose a rough equality on the entrants to the game, much in the same way as if a formula 1 team were to be given the same mopdel car as their rivals - you can tweak it, and the game becomes who can tweak the car the best.

Obviously, Rugby is and remains a business, but at least this element of the sport keeps the focus on the sport, and by dint of mitigating against massive investments in a few clubs is tendentially anti-capitalist (although decidedly not pro-socialist) in as much as it moves rewards in the game away from the capacity to invest capital. the soccer premiership, by way of contradistinction, is all about which club can most effectively deploy the most capital into the market, and allocates rewards accordingly.

Of course, the owners of the clubs, like all business folk who enjoy protectionist measures, might one day find such protections a hinderence to their profitability, but for now, we can enjoy a league in which the action is determined by events on the field, and in which skill with a bloody ball is what matters most.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Harlequins RL v. Hull Kingston Rovers

Sorry for lack of political blogging of late, I've been busy on the campaign blog though (we've just released our election address).

Anyway, for the time being, Rugby!

Saturday was a doozy. I got to the stoop to find the East Stand had been turned into a beechhead for the invading Hull Army. I wondered whether I should just stay quiet for the match, but it turned out there were still some Quins supporters in the stand, and so the game had plenty of noise throughout.

Rovers dominated the first quarters, but around 20 minutes in, Quins ran a penetrating attack over the line, and from thereon in the Humberside team barely managed to finish even one set outside their own half. The London team continued to play their fluent passing game, as against the Yorkshire squad, who relied, for the first half on their two massive players Vella and Cooke (the later had a hell of a boot on him, and he kicked one conversion clear of the south Stand), but they were met by three men tackling squads every time they ran the ball.

I should add that throughout Quins' tackling was tight and effective, a strong part of their play.

The second half Rovers started to pass the ball out to the wing, and they succesfully managed to run through a couople of tries, and made the play tight. It wasn't enough, however, and in the final quarter, Quins ran through two more tries (one in injury time) to put a seal on the game.

A dazzling display of football all round.

Harlequins RL 35 - 16 Hull KR

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