Tony Ward: Rugby needs to follow the All Blacks’ running-game template or risk extinction

Regular readers will know that it is not in our nature to be melodramatic so we’ll tread warily when saying rugby, while not quite on the precipice, is a game which has at best lost its way.

It’s a sweeping statement given the best efforts of New Zealand and latterly Japan to map a better way. The French too are hinting at habits of old while even the English Premiership finished on an optimistic high back in May. So all hope is not lost – despite the best efforts of the Lions and South Africa to massacre the sport by way of that abomination of a Test series.

It was caveman rugby, and I make no apologies for repeating that horrendous indictment again now. In partial mitigation, the Springboks are doing nothing that they haven’t done down through the decades. It is their way, their strength; literally and metaphorically. And yes of course there are many ways to win a rugby match beyond free-for-all naivete.

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