The eight-man scrum is a distinguishing feature of rugby union that has for too long been a source of consternation for fans, coaches and refs. The AOR team rolled up their sleeves to find a solution.
Tank Lanning – Make the strike compulsory for both sides
We simply have to see the scrum return as a fair contest. Otherwise all we have is rugby league.
Making the strike on your own ball compulsory last year was intended to eliminate the skew scrum feed … Well, we all know how that’s gone! Robbed of the hit, scrum coaches bemoaned the strict policing of the straight feed, saying it negated the advantage that should be afforded the feeding side.
Given the safety requirements, and under pressure to rid the game of multiple scrum resets, the game’s governing body has seemingly given in. Hence this ridiculous new feed that goes under the flank’s chest, thus bypassing not only the hooker, but the loosehead prop’s legs completely!
Yes, the side awarded the scrum, much like the team awarded the lineout, deserve some sort of advantage. But you also want the side competing for the ball in these two primary phases of the game, to have a chance of stealing it.
So bring back the straight feed, I say. AND make it compulsory for both sides to strike!
Both sides will then have to set a little higher, leading to fewer resets. But more importantly, it would see both sides having only seven sets of feet on the ground, instead of the opposition having eight, which made the feeding side susceptible to being shoved off their ball.
Scrumming is about power and technique, but primarily it is about timing. The side feeding the scrum gets to control the timing of the feed, which gives them a significant (but fair) advantage in that they get to time their initial shove with the feed.
Vital to this working though, would be policing the straight feed as it keeps the scrum a fair contest. And of course policing the opposition strike, which would indeed be tricky.
Zelím Nel – Eliminate the feed
Efforts to officiate a straight scrum feed are noble but doomed to fail because, in the transfer of the ball between the scrumhalf and hooker, the referee is dealing with two of the most conniving characters on the pitch!
It’s time for a radical rethink around how to restart play using a scrum contest that gives both teams a shot at winning the ball, so here goes: eliminate the scrum feed.
Instead, when a scrum is awarded, the ref places the ball on the mark.
Next, the two front rows deploy on opposite sides of the ball so that, from a bird’s-eye view:
- the defending tighthead is directly opposite the ball
- the ball is opposite the space between the attacking hooker and loosehead prop
The two front rows set up so that they are correctly bound and engaged over the ball. On the ref’s signal, the locks and back rows plug into their respective front rows, and both tight fives get their feet back and absorb the pressure.
The ref then ensures that both front rows have retained their initial position over the ball before signaling the start of the scrum.
This simplifies the contest from a refereeing point of view. The officials don’t have to police the feed, the scrum height, or slipped binds from the hit. It also narrows the scope of the scrum contest to shoving to get over the ball so that the hooker can strike.
The attacking team has the advantage that their hooker is in a better position to make that strike, but the defending team can win a tighthead if they go forward.
Both packs would have to scrum to get far enough over the ball to strike at it, with the ref mandated to award the attacking team a free-kick if the scrum is deadlocked after 10 seconds.
You’ve read what they think, now let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!