Steve Hansen has never been so right. Rugby is boring. It's more boring than a boring borer beetle in Boreham.

There have been opportunities to overhaul the laws but World Rugby have consistently dropped the ball and trodden on it.

I still watch hours of rugby; I love the game and always will - but it's largely thanks to MySky. With the ability to manipulate real-time TV, you can fast-forward (up to 30 times faster!) through the tragic misfortune that scrums have become. They are no longer scrums but the World Collapsing Championships. What used to be an art has become an artifice - a means to get yet another bleedin' penalty.

Then there's the tackled-ball rule, the confusing mess of rucks or mauls where the chances of being penalised are many and random. Hansen was talking about a defence-oriented approach persuading attackers to kick rather than run because they often get nailed behind the gain line and the intricacies of the breakdown laws mean they end up being penalised. So they kick. When they don't kick, long lines of players mass in highly-schooled defences. More often than not, the defenders are offside but are rarely penalised.


It all adds up to a stifling mass of bigger, faster and more skilled athletes pasting each other in a game based on bash. There is little room any more for the gliding or stepping wizard who can cut holes in the defensive cloth. If a Ben Smith or Cory Jane gets past the first tackler - which they usually do - three more fall on them like a block of flats collapsing. Instead, big, strapping brutes try to run through a wall of defenders and offload; a desperate search for unoccupied territory.

Hansen made his comments after viewing last week's Six Nations tests and wondered about the effect on future fans and the World Cup.

Some commentators dismissed his remarks as Cup mind games. One conspiracy theorist suggested a double-bluff - Hansen winding up the Brits about playing attractive rugby because he knew they couldn't do it and would therefore revert to their predictable kick-chase-tackle game.

A better critique came from former All Black Nick Evans, in the Daily Express. On England, he said: "They have a very good forward pack and defence and those things go a long way towards winning a World Cup. They also have balance - they have shored up the midfield - and have Manu Tuilagi to come back. They are in a good place."

He added Ireland's Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt was tactically "very, very good" and compared Ireland (who beat England last week) to the South African team who won the World Cup in 2007. "We'd like the World Cup to be [more open] but it does turn into a bit of a kick-fest with defences winning over attacks. The teams that can adapt to that style and be more ruthless generally succeed; that style suits the Irish dynamic."

Hansen wasn't aiming his comments at administrators. No changes will be made to rugby's rules until after the World Cup and one leading World Rugby spokesman has said change is not likely until at least 2018. Honestly, the IRB/WR would be outpaced by a woolly mammoth and they've been extinct for 10,000 years (the mammoths, that is ... ).

No, there are two possible reasons behind Hansen's comments. One is that England are continuing their pursuit of the running game and were beaten by Ireland partly because of that.

Hansen may not be so worried about Ireland but one of the rare defeats suffered by his All Blacks was at the hands of a muscular England team who choked them. If England play a running game at the World Cup, Hansen will be much more confident the All Blacks will be able to pick them off on the counter-attack.


The other is referees - the poor sods who apply the giant mixture of spaghetti, widdle and puke that is rugby's law book. Maybe Hansen's prod in rugby's chest was also partly aimed at persuading them to be more liberal; encouraging fewer penalties, more flow and more tries at the World Cup, even though they will likely be told what to do by the woolly mammoths of World Rugby before the World Cup .

Hansen may just have been offering an opinion on the world game. Whatever his motivation, the message was right. Rugby is boring and something needs to be done.

Or, to misquote David Brent of The Office, the key of despair will slide fully into the lock of apathy; the knob of mediocrity will turn slowly, opening the door of despondency.