When Finn Russell and Dan Biggar start an inevitable kicking duel throughout Saturday’s sport, spectators would do nicely to recollect how far the sport has come.
This weekend’s Six Nations match marks the sixtieth anniversary of a sport that holds a agency place in rugby infamy.
The Murrayfield slugfest in 1963 is considered one of many dreariest matches ever performed – and it modified the way in which the sport was performed eternally.
And one man was answerable for the ‘spectacle’ – Clive Rowlands.
The Large Freeze of 1963 was among the many harshest winters on file.
Sporting fixtures throughout the nation have been cancelled, nevertheless the newly put in undersoil heating at Murrayfield and a military of volunteers with snow shovels ensured the February sport between Scotland and Wales went forward.
Nevertheless, most of the 60,000 who braved the bitter chilly could have wished that they had not.
Wales gained 6-0. Though on the time such a scoreline was commonplace, the facet that had purists crying into their beer have been the techniques employed that day by the guests – techniques that yielded an astonishing 111 line-outs. The common for worldwide rugby at present isn’t greater than 20.
As Denis Busher of the Each day Herald wrote on the time: “Worldwide rugby is in its loss of life throes as a spectator sport. Wales gained carrying ‘fashionable’ energy rugby to its logical conclusion.”
Wales’ coach Warren Gatland might be aware of the critique, however 60 years in the past it was the wily Rowlands who opted for brawn over brains.
The Wales scrum-half and captain noticed a possibility with some bedtime studying the night time earlier than the match.
In line with the matchday programme, the rival units of forwards have been evenly matched when it comes to dimension. Rowlands, nevertheless, suspected in another way.
After checking with just a few of his forwards, who admitted to being just a few kilos heavier than the official data, and given the circumstances, Rowlands determined Wales would attempt to beat Scotland at their very own sport up entrance.
At a time when there was no penalty for kicking the ball straight into contact, even outdoors the 25-yard line – now the 22m line – Rowlands set about hoofing the ball up area time, and time… and time once more.
The facility of the Wales pack and the unrelenting barrage of kicks pinned Scotland again for all however the closing moments of a sport that additionally included greater than 35 scrums.
The Wales backs could have boasted pace and guile, however have been diminished to spectators. It’s stated their supremely gifted outside-half David Watkins acquired simply two passes from Rowlands all sport.
Wales centre Brian Davies, who was dropped for the subsequent match, stated: “I touched the ball twice and will hardly really feel my arms within the chilly.”
Wales gained at Murrayfield for the primary time in 10 years, due to a penalty from full-back Grahame Hodgson and a surprising drop aim from Rowlands – the one worldwide factors he scored.
Rowlands was carried from the pitch on the shoulders of travelling followers and was unrepentant about his techniques.
“It was not engaging and I felt sorry for the backs,” he stated after the match. “However we have been all out to win and we performed to win. The pack did an ideal job.
“I used to be by no means at any time tempted to open the sport up and let my backs make the working. That is what Scotland have been praying we might do.”
‘No victory for rugby’
Supporters could have been jubilant, however there have been critical misgivings over the place the sport was heading.
Within the Each day Specific, Pat Marshall concluded: “This was power-rugby, brutally bludgeoned up and down the touchlines by two brutish packs with kicking scrum-halves yapping at their heels.
“It has no half within the sample of British rugby, the place quickness of wit and fleetness of foot nonetheless counts for greater than brawn supported by an informed boot. Rowlands gained a tactical victory, however it was no victory for rugby.”
Others adopted swimsuit and steadily the authorities have been moved to undertake the ‘Australian dispensation’ and ban direct kicking to the touch from outdoors the 25-yard line some years later.
The irony is that the group that benefitted probably the most from the regulation adjustments was the good Wales group of the early Nineteen Seventies – coached in fact by Rowlands.