Scrum variance highlights differences in attitude

Getty Images     16 Oct 2013     Getty Images

Writing in a column on, Barnes said: "New Zealand and South Africa predominantly scrum in the hope of forcing tries rather than attempting to con the officials into penalties."

He added that what he termed 'three-point negativity' was greater than the desire to score tries in the Northern Hemisphere.

Barnes said that in the recent Investec Rugby Championship final between New Zealand and South Africa, a game he felt was the highest quality game of the year by 'an untold distance', both teams played with determination to create tries rather than stopping the other side scoring.

They had been helped by Welsh referee Nigel Owens' display with this whistle and Barnes said Owens told him, "When everyone wants to play the game there doesn't seem as much wrong with the game's laws as people think."

Barnes continued: "Owen also added that refereeing the scrum is not as difficult as most think – as long as the respective teams scrum according to the laws."

And that was where the differences in attitude were personified, Barnes said.

"Defence is mistakenly perceived as more important than attack, so training hours [up north] are set accordingly.

"Thereafter, the prophecy becomes self fulfilling. Compare not standards – that would be unfair on the rest of the world – but attitudes.

"The Springboks scored four tries, all of them gems, but New Zealand, with a well-honed attacking game, simply responded with five. There has been much talk of the defensive deficiencies but combine the pace of the match and the thin air of Johannesburg and the criticism comes up short," Barnes said.

"Bold and brilliant rugby is not for day dreamers and losers. The best team on the planet plays with more flair and attacking vision than the rest. That is a fundamental reason for their longevity at the top of the world's rugby tree," he said.