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A four-minute marvel
Richard Seeckts
February 24, 2014
Over and out ... England players celebrate at the final whistle © Getty Images
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If you didn't watch Saturday's England v Ireland game, or even if you did, turn the volume up and watch again the BBC iPlayer footage of the match from 2:07:30 for four minutes. This begins in the 75th minute of a classic rugby international.

In the four minutes there are no points scored and the referee's whistle is not blown until the ball eventually goes out of play. It is an intense, lung-bursting, passionate passage of play with big chaps, committed beyond exhaustion, knocking great lumps out of each other but with plenty of skill on display as well and the Twickenham crowd in full cry. They got good value.

Hard to believe that the referee was Craig Joubert who, in last year's Six Nations, presided over Scotland v Wales, a dreadful game made worse by his pedantic officiating, particularly of Scotland's scrum, resulting in a record 18 penalty attempts at goal.

Twickenham showed that the revised scrum laws and a narrowing of the different interpretation of laws gap between referees from the different hemispheres really can make next year's World Cup something more than a battle between front rows and referees.

The four minutes also saw the BBC's coverage at its best. Viewers were finally allowed to watch the game, hear the crowd and listen to commentators genuinely impressed by what they were witnessing. At last, there no disorientating switches of camera angle, no manufactured analysis or pitch-side waffle, no tiresome shots of spectators waving and not a single shot of either team's coaching staff.

For of all the match statistics, one not previously published is that the BBC producers decided that the public should be shown the coaches, mostly doing nothing at all, 34 times during the match. I made it 22-12 to Lancaster's men, which also calls the fabled BBC impartiality into question.

For four glorious minutes, however, the players made the geeks stop tinkering and just let us watch.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
WRITER BIO

Richard Seeckts' rugby career consisted of one school match where he froze on the wing and despite no substitutes being available he was withdrawn from the game at half-time for mocking the opposition's line-out calls. Thereafter Richard and the sport agreed active participation was not the way ahead, but that has not prevented him from avidly writing about and watching the game. He now contributes his random observations to the Crooked Feed blog on ESPNscrum.com