My Take: The Welsh Ball(s) Controversy

Let me get this right, there’s a concern that Wales 19-13 victory over Ireland in today’s Six Nations match is somehow tainted because at one point in the match the ball throw into the game wasn’t the same ball that went out of bounds a few seconds earlier? This is a controversy?

According to ESPN Scrum’s Huw Baines:

The scrum-half and Wales skipper Matthew Rees impishly conspired to craft a score from a quick lineout but, thanks to a handily-positioned ball boy, the ball thrown into play was not the one dispatched out on the full seconds earlier…

“A handily-position ball boy?” Baines makes it sound like there was a vast conspiracy, complete with secret messages being passed from pitch to sideline, a plan (by Ireland apparently) to kick the ball out of bounds at that precise location, a second gunman at the grassy knoll, possibly big stacks of cash being handed all around for no reason (because you can’t have a proper conspiracy without big stacks of cash) to steal this game away from Ireland with… the horror, a different rugby ball.

Really?

Let’s break this down. If this is all it’s going to take to taint a first-tier competition rugby match, then this game has a big problem. Rather than let commentators slap asterisks next to matches for no real reason (and that’s what this is), can we all agree to let the officials check out the game balls in advance to agree that each game ball is the same? If the NFL can successfully play a game using more than one match ball, then so can rugby.

Because if there’s one thing that rugby players should never be accused of, it’s having a lack of balls…

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