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Rugby Union can learn from League: Tuqiri

Written By : SUN FIJI SPORTSDESK. Lote Tuqiri believes rugby union could learn a thing or two from rugby league. Leicester Tigers’ Australian winger began his career with league side
31 Dec 2009 12:00

image Written By : SUN FIJI SPORTSDESK. Lote Tuqiri believes rugby union could learn a thing or two from rugby league.
Leicester Tigers’ Australian winger began his career with league side Brisbane Broncos in 1999 and converted to union in 2002 to join Super 14 outfit the Waratahs.
He went on to play 67 Test matches for the Wallabies.
The 30-year-old has been at Leicester for six weeks now and is becoming all too aware that the fast, open rugby he has perhaps been accustomed to on hard, sun-baked southern hemisphere pitches, is a world away from a muddy English winter.
Tuqiri, who has signed a deal until the end of this season, admits it is a different game he has “just got to get used to”.
But he says that governing bodies in union could perhaps look south to tweak the game for the benefit of spectators.
This season, mass calls for rule changes surrounding the breakdown have fallen on deaf ears at the International Rugby Board.
“They change the rules a lot in rugby league and it is probably a better spectacle as a result, certainly in the south,” said Tuqiri. “They try to cater for the spectators a lot more down there.
“In Australia, in rugby league, we are in a market where we have to entertain the crowds because we just don’t have the population base that there is up here.
“I like watching it. They are quite forward-thinking in that sense.
“In the Australian Football League (AFL), all the coaches and referees get together at the end of the season and see where the game is.
“They look at whether they can change any rules for the better of the spectator. That is something rugby (union) could learn from.
“Look at who is on top of the competition (Guinness Premiership) now. It is Saracens. They kick the leather off it and expect the other teams to make a mistake.
“It’s rugby but, personally, I don’t think it is that exciting.
“That is what we play up here though and I just have to get used to it.”
Tuqiri is expected to make his fifth start in Tigers’ colours this weekend in the crucial Heineken Cup clash with Clermont at Welford Road. With weekend temperatures set to plummet below freezing on game day, Clermont’s strength in depth isn’t the only thing worrying the Aussie winger.
“It’s cold,” he said. “And it is especially cold on the wing! Of course, the pitches are different too.
“Coming from the south, you think it will be an easy transition, but it certainly hasn’t been rugby-wise and getting used to the pitches.
“I have spent three or four weeks up here on tour (with the national team) in the past and thought ‘that wasn’t that bad’ – but I have been here for six weeks now and every week it tends to be a wet pitch or a muddy pitch.
“I have just got to get my head around it.”
The former Wallaby said the visit of Clermont to Welford Road in such a huge European game is one of the main reasons why he came to play northern hemisphere rugby in the first place.
“I have seen a bit of the Heineken Cup at home,” he said. “I watched the semi-final in Cardiff last year (Tigers won on penalties), and that was pretty exciting.
“When I was looking at possible clubs to play for, I had looked at a few French clubs as well, because I wanted to play in the Heineken Cup.
“It is a prestigious tournament and one that I am now playing in.
“It’s exciting to play against teams I haven’t played against before. It’s a big stage and I enjoy the hype and build-up that comes with a big game.”




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