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The lost half: Only 12 minutes of action

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A rugby flame was snuffed out at Olympic Park in London.

Call it the lost half. Call it what you like. After a reasonable first 40, the World Cup rugby match between New Zealand and Namibia descended into a dire mess. Even by rugby's paltry standards of ball-in-play time, this game was a shocker.

An international board investigation of World Cups since 1991 revealed the game is improving in this area. In the 1991 tournament, the ball was in play for close to 25 minutes per match. This steadily rose to a stately 35 minutes and 25 seconds at the 2011 tournament in New Zealand.

There may be some grey ares about what ball in play means. By rights though, we should have got about 18 minutes of play in the second half when the world champion All Blacks met the worst team in the tournament in Pool C. Instead, the ball was in play a mere 12 and a half minutes in this spell according to a carefully applied Herald stop watch.

Here is another statistics to make World Rugby cringe and chase all those new customers in Hong Kong and America away.

There was a stoppage in play midway through the second half in which virtually nothing happened for six minutes, unless you count the ref talking to an errant player, a yellow card being issued, Namibian props and a wing running on and off, a couple of fleeting scrums, a couple of attempted scrums, and a penalty. You really could have made a cup of tea during that, and even washed the teapot.

Radio Sport: Tournament headlines

Frenchman Romain Poite whistled time off during this static stanza, but it was an epic delay which flattened what was left of any the atmosphere.

Here's another statistic to remember. This alleged 40 minute half of rugby lasted for a whopping 51 minutes.

One of rugby's problems is its search for accuracy and justice. Reviewing decisions is cutting into the flow. Yellow cards encourage the depleted team to meander about, find injuries, take risks out of their game, and generally slow the tempo down. The added problem was that even the ball-in-play bits weren't all that good in this stop-start match.

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