Saturday 18 November 2017

Scrum shambles looks set to continue despite changes from the top

World Rugby recently introduced three new changes to the scrum (a total of six law changes in all) geared towards taking away the time-killing element to the set-piece now known as scrum time. Photo: Getty Stock
World Rugby recently introduced three new changes to the scrum (a total of six law changes in all) geared towards taking away the time-killing element to the set-piece now known as scrum time. Photo: Getty Stock
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

World Rugby recently introduced three new changes to the scrum (a total of six law changes in all) geared towards taking away the time-killing element to the set-piece now known as scrum time.

Space prevents elaboration now but essentially the three most recent tweaks centre around a) one of the front-row forwards on the side of the scrum-half feeding, striking (an art long lost) for the ball b) the No 8 can now pick the ball from either lock's feet instead of having to first channel it back to his own and c) the scrum- half will no longer need the referee's go-ahead to put the ball in but can effectively put it now into his side of the scrum (nothing new about that) although it states the ball must still be fed straight. And pink pigs will fly!

I don't want to jump the gun as it is early in the season and in fairness to World Rugby and all at Rugby House these changes are well intentioned.

Read more: Tony Ward: Outstanding Conan must be first choice for club and country

Yet after a fortnight of the new season little has changed in terms of time being eaten up by mind-numbing scrum upon reset scrum followed by the inevitable penalty.

Two simple questions come to mind - 1) why must the referee be so slow and deliberate in his 'crouch, bind, set' instructions? (when compared to the days of old) and 2) Is it my imagination or are far too many referees blowing up the collapse or even potential collapse much too early?

I get the safety issues involved but these are full-time professionals seasoned in every art of the scrum, not least self-preservation. At underage it is different but as of now the importance of the scrum continues completely out of proportion to the game.

Irish Independent

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