Wynne Gray: Modern legend who is no fan of the modern ways

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Advocates of the modern rugby world often patronise those who have gone before. The "in our day" mob are told to move with the times, to see the wisdom in revenue rugby, rotation, conditioning and ELVs.

However, that ageist argument does not work on Josh Kronfeld who was still in an All Black jersey in 2000 and is now helping to coach Varsity in the Dunedin club competition.

He was always a modern man, even considered ahead of his time or a bit too left field for the rugby hierarchy. He's someone who would surely embrace the Super 14 new law variations ... Forget it.

Kronfeld is scathing of the changes, claiming they make the sport resemble rugby league. "It scares me how quickly we have devalued forward play," he says. "And the breakdown has become ridiculous. The biggest problem is they took rucking away from the game so that now we have a free-for-all with hands on the ball."

Kronfeld knows a thing or two about the breakdown - he was a genius at tackling, bouncing to his feet and demanding rights to the ball.

The rules say players must be on their feet to be in the game, but Kronfeld sees mixed evidence of that interpretation. After rucking went west, mauling became risky as stoppages meant sides lost possession or conceded free kicks.

Rugby, he says, is no longer a game for all shapes and sizes. It scares him that lawmakers are creating teams of fast, physical clones. There must be variety, the great flanker says, but the rulemakers are writing that out of the sport.

Kronfeld says the ELVs are creating more harm than good, although he likes the extra space backlines get at scrums. His main gripe is about the endless changes to his favourite sport. If the game were left alone, he argues, the onus would then be on referees, coaches and players to improve the product.

Instead we have unnecessary, far-reaching changes. "It's confusing. It's turning me off," Kronfeld says.

It will be intriguing to see if that viewpoint, from a great All Black, makes it to the IRB discussion tables later this year.

- NZ Herald

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