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IRB must bring in 'Mole' to dig game out of scrum mess

Published 17/09/2013 | 05:00

Enrique Rodriguez is one of the front-row legends of world rugby.

Known as 'Topo' (the Spanish for Mole), he was a scrum technician who played in all three front-row positions for Argentina and Australia in a Test career that spanned from 1979-87.

He has spent 17 years researching and writing a thesis on the art of scrummaging. This is a man who knows his front-row spuds, and here is his recent response to my views on scrummaging:

"I have authored a scrum thesis published in 2012, a full colour book that studies, analyses and proposes solutions to the problem that is the scrum.

"My book 'The Art of Scrummaging' has the opinion of more than 30 expert collaborators (ex-international players and coaches), it proposes a two-step engagement sequence which will simplify this process and will add safety to the spine and neck of players involved.

"The Crouch-Touch-Pause-Engage sequence was devised by a bunch of referees doing the dirty work for the IRB.

"Now do you think I was ever consulted by those law-making referees? No. Do you think anyone dared to ask me something about the technique and what it takes to complete a good scrum? No.

"The scrum won't get better until: (a) the IRB address referees' roles and behaviour, (b) they bring the scrum laws into the 21st century by overhauling them, (c) that players and coaches must have more responsibility for the scrum process, (d) referees must not talk to the players while the game is on and only to the two captains when needs be and the game is stopped, (e) laws need to be simplified even more to make the job easier on referees.

"All of the above requires work, energy and money. Why don't we start tomorrow?"

When a former Test player, who so clearly carries the stripes, who is so obviously passionate and willing to get involved but is not, then why not?

To those in power in Huguenot House, the name is Topo. He is offering no quick fix but his input, and that of so many other former specialists (think Paul Wallace [above] Des Fitzgerald, Phil Orr and Reggie Corrigan on this little island alone) will surely add immeasurably to the process in train.

I won't hold my breath but I'll watch this space with interest.

Irish Independent

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