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SIDELIGHTS OF RUGBY.

SOME THICKS,OF THE-GAME.

. (Bt Off-side Mao.) , . Although it is agreed,that tricks epice the game, they are usually practised in each- Kugby generation by only a fe\v versatile 'players. Curiously, there is hardly anything new iu any of them. Twenty-five .years - ago, Eotheram, the great I English half-back, added to his reputation by bouncing the ball on his knee over an intending taokler's head; the Native team brought tho trick back to New Zealand, where it was practised by such adepts as Ellison and Keogh, and "Sid." Nicholls taught it in the Poneke gymnasium. A fortnight ago it' was introduced to tho American team by Duncan . as • his own patent novelty of scoring trios' ut the expense of flabbergasted full-backs. -Years n^o,. Keogh had a, smart, practico when kicking .& penalt}, near his opponent's twenty-five and near tho touch-line. : His system was to mako a groat demonstration as if he were going: to kick for goal. By this means he frequently induced his opponeuts to congregate near the goal, and when this happened, .and there was a rear divisional vacancy in front of the marli, ; the quick-witted Southerner would immediately punt the ball over tho heads' of the few forwards facing him, and then catching the leather agaiu, he would very often score a- try. A few weeks ago, playing against tho English League team iu Sydney, Messenger successfully reintroduced this same coup mill scored-brilliantly. Uβ made a grant demonstration before he kicked. Lining his men right' across the field, he pointed' to the goal and exhorted his forwards to follow up. fast. Meanwhile he was on the touchlme with tlie ball in front of him, and in the hands of the placer. Anticipating no danger, the English rear divisions wire caught napping. They left their positions fronting the base of operations and gathered near the goal. With only three English forwards facing him, Messenger gave a sudden order to the placer, and, dashing at the ball, deftly kicked it just over the heads of his astonished opponents. Then dodging round, he cauglit the leather again, and was over tho goal-lino in the twinkling of an eye. Great applause, Messenger again a hero. Keogh's Strategy. Kcogh' has been known to change tho procedure in similar circumstances by tacking tlio ball through • tho opposing forwards' legs, and then either himselt or a comrade would run round and continue the attack. Ivcogh is regarded as the trickiest and most brilliantly attacklug back ever turned out of the New Zealand school. Ho gave prool of this even when ho played for Otago ngainst Stoddart's team, before ho went on the great tour. Old footballers will doubtless remember the telegraphic accounts of one match, which recorded "Keogh' had'five jerseys torn off him." It read like tho battle history of somo great. Paladin. Gago,_tells a story .of, the manner in which tho Now Zcalnnder used to beat the English halves when be thought they were paying him too much attention. The English halves sometimes played a sort of half-wing-forward game. They would rush round on the. Native half (Gage), and then on to Keoßh. When tho latter wished to be absolutely cer-

tain of a try, he would instruct Gage to pelt the ball at him, through his (Gage's) legs, and then catch each halfback by a limb for an instant only, just as they came round. That instant, howover, was enough. C4age would release his opponents with a mutter apology, but meantime Kcogh had' shot over the goalline. Unfair, of course, but clover. Another trick attributed to Keogh was to throw the ball in the face or at the body of un opponent chasing him. The onslaught of the fugitive would for a moment nonplus the pursuer, the ball would bound- forward, and in that time Keogh would be again in possession and dashing up the field.' Aiiother trick he had, was to pretend to kick when approaching an attacking back, and then, when that, individual momentarily halted, to run as hard as ho could.. This point, by the way, was practised by Sir. T. S. Ronaldson (now of the Public Trust' Department), when he introduced Kugby into the Wairarapn, over thirty years ago. Old English Tactics. Stoddart's team were very tricky in , back nlay. They shone at feint passing, but in later yearn, one of them—Speakman—carried it .to .excess in ■Northern Queensland, and, in consequence, nearly lost his., life.. He was nlayiug against a team captained by.W. "Warbrick, who believed in the man for man, and put him out of action, theory. Speakman wouldCDmo down the field waring the ball as if it were a signal flag, when something would charge 1 him like a catapult. It was Warbrick.. The continued treatment' at the hands of the half-caste gradually convinced the Englishman that feint passing was only effective when introduced at intervals. Stoddart, himself, is . said to have once performed a very brilliant feat. He was playing in England, and on three occasions, when he had dodged through his opposing three-quarters, he had been brought down by the full-back. Tor the fourth time he changed his tactics,. , He dodged through in, his usual/ brilliant style, and as ho.- approached "the last Lulwark," that individaal made ready for au. aggressive tackle. When within a few yards of his foe, the Blaokheath champion stopped dead, turned on his heel, walked four paces, and then turning round again, potted a goal. Anderton had tho trick of'all fast men, i.e., running at three-quarter speed up to a man, and then racing, round him at full speed, or running at full speed .in an arc, and then, when the intending tackier was drawn well over, to stop and swervo in. These methods of attack were very popular with some New Zealand- players; especially Smith, Absalom, R. Thompson .(an old Wairarapa-Wellington threequarter), Surmnn, and other sprinters. Over the Head. • Screw-kicking is such an absolutely necessary qualification for first-class back : play/ that its practice does not come undei the category of tricks. Kicking back over, the head, however, may be considered a point in defensive tactics useful when put into operation from the line-out, or by a back when he has to run back to field tho leather, and is being hard pressed by sure-tackling forwards. A story has been told of an English champion, who could throw the ball over his head, and kick it back whence it came and thirty yrirds further, with his heel,' but the- legend lacks , the . confirmation necessary to accept, it even as a possibility. Thero have been men who could kick a few yards overhead with the heel, but in any case the play is.of the gallery order, and cannot bo recommended. Line-out Tactics.

The present five-yards touch-line limit should be the'means.of introducing smart play. The side throwing in might form ill) ten yards from tho line, with a halfback to stand back, and'shoot-' in and snatch the leather in the gap between the five aiul ten-yard limit. Or the balli might be thrown out fivo or more yards to one of the line-out forwards, and then thrown back by him to a speedy, dashing, half or three-quarter. This sort of business •■ should always be regarded as a feature of line-out »play. On the -line-out itself, tho All Blacks made a very strong point of feeding their backs from the heads'of some tall and agile forward. The play is very effective when properly carried out.. / Diagonal Kicks.: ..., , ...;"

The diagonal kick by a three-quarter back to his bunched forwards on the other side of the field, or to his own colleague, fallowed by;, a straight follow-up to pufc' them on-side, should bo a part of the' general play, and should not be included in tho tricks'list. On the. other hand, the short or the long diagonal kick from a penalty, as a means of introducing a passing attack, is a point which can be worked at timts with success, and with confusion to the other side. Around the Scrum. , The system of working the "blind" eide of tho scrum is also a part of ordinary tactics which should be taken ■ advantage of, especially in the opponents' twentyfives; while kicking from the side of tho scrum leads to splendid openings, when the, opposing side does not play a win;forward. In fact, the system conld b*e practised with possible success by a halfback operating on the side.of the ecrum not carrying, the winger. .'-.'■■ It. is fairly well understood ..that'.tricks' , should not bo worked to death. They should be put into operation only when thero is a, good chance of a score resulting from them. They should then bo loft" severely alone Until another most favourable opportunity presents itself. DEGENERATE FOOTBALL. [To tho Editor.] Sir,—Having looked in vain for comment on last Saturday's disgraceful exhibition ■at the Athletic Park, I. should like to know where the supporters of clean sport are. Your columns have been full of very :sensational theatrical discussions, but what about remedying a growing menace to our national sport? Our' sport is the outlet by which our young men work-off their superfluous energy in a healthy ■manner, and'it is very undesirable that :\co should lower our nigh reputation by .anything like an approach to the American style, and blackguardism must be put idown,, at any price, on the football field. Thanking you in anticipation,—l am, etc., « . SPECTATOR, : [Certain references T .o one particular incident in last Saturday's match: are omitted, as the matter is sub judice.] [To the Editor.] '■'■ Sir,—Followers of Rugby football all regret that'it should become necessary for ■the .police to tako action against : rough flayers. Surely it is titno the union took •some drastic action. I Might I suggest that the Rules and Regulations of Rugby be altered where necessary, so that the Referees' Association' could 'add to their membership a inumbers of- lovers of clean football, one lot' whom to bo appointed to ench match 'as. touch-lino judge, with power to report |ito tho referee during (he progress of the match on rough play. The referee- could ■thereupon either warn the offender or crder him off, and, in tho latter event, ithe report of the touch-line judge at the inquiry should be treated the same as that of a referee is at present. Tin's would re.Heve referees of the almost impossible 'task of watching both the players and the : £iimc, and the "wait-till-the-rcferce-is-not-looking-a.'ld-ril-Ret-one-nu-to-him " player .would cither have to mend his ways, or go on the bank.—l am, etc., ', : NORTHERN UNION.

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SIDELIGHTS OF RUGBY., Dominion, Volume 3, Issue 894, 13 August 1910

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SIDELIGHTS OF RUGBY. Dominion, Volume 3, Issue 894, 13 August 1910

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