How can a team score 65 points and still lose?

The Super 14 match between the Lions and the Chiefs in Johannesburg at the weekend has raised a few eyebrows. The Chiefs were the eventual winners but it was close – only 7 points was the difference between the two sides, but with 137 points scored the final result of 72-65 is quite ridiculous.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a new Super Rugby record, beating the previous highest points total of 118 when Natal beat the Highlanders in 1997.

I’ve watched four or five Super 14 matches so far this season – a fair number from the opening two rounds – and I’ve very much enjoyed it. With the ELVs discarded, the quality of attacking rugby has been remarkable.

I hadn’t necessarily thought that the high-scoring games were due to leaky defences, preferring to credit the high skill levels and the speed at which the game is played. There is no question that it has been better to watch than most of this season’s Guinness Premiership matches, and I just hope that some of the English Directors of Rugby have been marvelling at the dynamism, the clearing out at rucks, the ambition to run with the ball, the silky hands with so many offloads, the fitness from 1 to 15 that ensures there is always a support runner…

I also hope the Northern Hemisphere referees have been watching too. The SANZAR directive has been to give the benefit of any doubt at the breakdown to the attacking team – any slowing the ball down by defenders is penalised immediately, and the result has been a faster-flowing game with more attacking running.

The highest-scoring game in this weekend’s round of Guinness Premiership games was between Bath and Worcester, where they notched up 50 points between them. The average points total was 29, whilst the 9 points scored in the Wasps v Saracens game looks absurd compared with a 72-65 scoreline.

Is this just an anomaly, or should we be concerned? At times, the Super 14 matches can look like a different sport, but perhaps this can just be explained by faster grounds, more lenient refereeing, no fear of relegation, and frankly, higher skill levels.

3 thoughts on “How can a team score 65 points and still lose?

  1. The last paragraph is spot on,

    ” At times, the Super 14 matches can look like a different sport, but perhaps this can just be explained by faster grounds, more lenient refereeing, no fear of relegation, and frankly, higher skill levels.”

    These factors can make rugby to look like a different game and in the case of the super 14, they do.

    Faster dround we can’t change really althoug a few pitches could be bettered. I would like to see harsher refereeing on infringers at the ruck, I get upset when you can slow the ball down 5 times then get a warning then 5 times more and then a yellow card, send them off first time and make it clear that you will not tolerate it. This has to be done in the GP.

    No religation is nothing I would like to aspire to as a lot of the GP games are more competative than super 14 just because of that.

    Skill levels have to be improved, there is not enough emphasis put on skill in the or for kids which is where it all starts. I remember being told to go the gym and change my body shape at the age of 16 this is far, far too early for this kind of thing. Fitness is also a factor we have become obsessed with bulk in England andd the players are becomeing slower as a result.

  2. I watched that game as I have a soft spot for the Chiefs.

    The truth is that the game had been played for a whole hour when the score was 25-65, which is a less-suspicious, if not less spectacular, score to witness.

    But then the highveld factor appeared. The Chiefs couldn’t move any longer. They said: enough.

    They were exhausted and thought the score was more than safe. The Lions saw then their chance and were a try away of a miracle come-back.

    I would say fitness (in a high-pace game) was the key factor.

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