June International Tours

Scrum report from 6N & S14

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Two aspects of the scrum are of interest at the moment – the procedure of engagement and the putting in of the ball.


Let’s look at both.


1. Engage procedure


The change in the procedure is in the interests of safety. For this reason it may well be finding approval amongst front row players.


The biggest danger is in the collapse of the scrum,. This is the major cause of resetting the scrum, and resets mean more scrums. That is tedious to watch and adds to the possibility of danger.


It is clear from watching that the referees who give the commands most distinctly have fewest problems.


It is also clear that those who insist on correct binding from the start have fewer problems. In the match between the Sharks and the Waratahs there were problems when players bound on the arm instead of as the law requires:


Law 20.3 (c) Binding by loose-head props. A loose-head prop must bind on the opposing tight-head prop by placing the left arm inside the right arm of the tight-head and gripping the tight-head’s jersey on the back or side. The loose-head prop must not grip the chest, arm, sleeve or collar of the opposition tight-head prop. The loose-head prop must not exert any downward pressure.
Penalty: Penalty Kick


(d) Binding by tight-head props. Tight-head props must bind on the opposing loose-head props’ by placing their right arm outside the left upper arm of the opposing loose-head prop. The tight-head prop must grip the loose-head prop’s jersey with the right hand only on the back or side. The tight-head prop must not grip the chest, arm, sleeve or collar of the opposition loose-head prop. The tight-head prop must not exert any downward pressure.
Penalty: Penalty Kick


Binding on the opponent’s arm is not an option. If that arm then drops down at the elbow so that the elbow is vertical to the ground, making a V of the arm, trouble is bound to follow. Pulling with the arms is a part of pulling. If that arm is bent downwards, it is bound to pull downwards. When Al Baxter was penalised for this, he looked disapproving, but the referee was right to penalise him.


In one match, admittedly with few scrums, there were no resets at all – Crusaders vs Reds.


The biggest percentage for a resets per team was Ireland (5/8) and Western Force (7/10).


In the first week of the Super 14 and the Six Nations, we produced the following scrum statistics:


In the first week of Super 14 2006, 62 scrums out of 136 were reset – 45%
In the first week of Six Nations 2006, 24 scrums out of 60 were reset – 40%


In the first week of Super 14 2007, 41 scrums out of 134 were reset – 30%
In the first week of Six Nations 2007, 22 scrums out of 48 were reset – 46%


We can update as time goes on:


In the second week of Super 14 2007, 37 scrums were reset out of 128 – 29%
In the second week of Six Nations 2007, 15 scrums out of 53 were reset – 28%


It’s still early.


2. Put it in straight.


Paddy O’Brien sent out a encyclical to the referees of the world telling them to ensure that the ball is put in straight at scrums.


In the ten matches in Six Nations and Super 14, there were 181 scrums. That is without resets which would add significantly to the number of put-ins. In all of those scrums there was just one (1) free kick for a crooked feed. That suggests that either the scrumhalves are an inordinately angelic lot or referees are turning a blind eye.


On one occasion the referee said to the scrumhalf after the scrum: “Straighter next time.”


At Twickenham in the second half, there was a scrum where the camera had a great view of proceedings. Harry Ellis of England produced the ball from his lap and it went in skew. However you looked at it and replayed it, it was skew. If it had not been impeded it would have come out behind the further lock.


The commentators

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