Three weeks ago, the Lions were big news for naming a 23-man squad, only to change it last-minute to get an advantage at the Chiefs.
On the face of it, with teams required to name their match-day squad 48 hours before kickoff, it seemed a bit underhanded.
But at the same time, it seemed smart of Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli to keep some aces up his sleeve in New Zealand.
However, when Jake White called on rugby bosses to scrap early lineup calls, I thought to hell with that idea.
And, no, it’s not only because it’s Jake White wants it.
The former World Cup-winning coach wrote in his column for All Out Rugby: “[In football] team lists were announced not long before kickoff and the locals drew a lot out of the combinations, the formation and who was on the bench.
“That’s a big part of the weekly intrigue for football supporters. As was the case for the Lions, I think that rugby would benefit greatly from scrapping the early team announcement.
“We’re talking about a sport that’s becoming more and more technical, and where analysis is playing a bigger role every season. By unveiling the team two days in advance, your plans are telegraphed to your opponents and they know what’s coming. It’s also a procedure that makes every match more vulnerable to unexpected weather.
“Pushing back the team announcement would add a level of excitement to the match-day experience for supporters and a layer of unpredictability to the contest.”
While, I guess it would make for more excitement for fans, I doubt it will make it any easier for coaches.
If you think coaches are second-guessing their plans at every moment, you’re wrong.
They do their analysis and planning and make the decisions.
Even in football, bosses plan to impose their game on the opponent. So who cares what the opposition does?
In a game as physical as it is tactical like rugby, matches are still won and lost in one-on-one battles.
The two sports are different in a way that the very nature of the game becomes more predictable when you look at the basic premise of the it.
In rugby, you carry the ball over a space to a goal line. In football, by comparison, you move the ball into a small goal on the other side of the pitch.
Even the fact that the ball has to be passed backwards in rugby makes it more predictable tactically.
Plus if you take football as an example of how knowledge of your opponents gives you the edge, consider how results swung in the Champions League semifinals. It wasn’t surprising that Liverpool and Tottenham got those results, just planning.
Anyway. It’s rich that Jake White wants to play on the element of surprise when his game was the most predictable of the lot.