Scrum engagement changes for new season

Not sure why it’s taken them so long to put this out, but here’s the official news release on the scrum engagement sequence

IRB to address scrum issues with global trial
(IRB.COM) Tuesday 12 June 2012

• “Crouch, touch, set” will be the call
• One part of an ongoing process to improve the scrum
• World’s scrum experts make up the steering group

A revised scrum engagement sequence will be trialled globally following unanimous backing from the IRB’s expert Scrum Steering Group.

The trial, which will incorporate the sequence “crouch, touch, set”, was approved at a meeting of the specialist group – made up of Union and players’ representatives, former players and other experts – in Bristol, England, last month.

The revised engagement process will be trialled alongside the five Law amendments announced in May, from the start of the next season in each hemisphere and forms one part of the IRB’s ongoing commitment to improving the scrum phase of the Game.

The sequence will see the front rows crouch then touch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then set the scrum.
This sequence was one of six that were extensively researched at six different levels of the Game, including Women’s Rugby, as part of the initial trial process. “Crouch, touch, set” was found to be the most successful and will now be trialled on a global level.

IRB Rugby Committee Chairman and former New Zealand captain Graham Mourie said: “Most people accept the scrum is currently a problematic area of the Game, accounting for roughly 17 per cent of match time in elite Rugby and with more than 50 per cent of scrums resulting in collapses or resets.”

The IRB is committed to addressing these issues and has tasked the specialist steering group to identify the causes and solutions. This is a positive first step, but it should be noted that we must wait for the outcomes of the three-year Scrum Forces Project before we can take an holistic approach to the scrum.”

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The scrum is a complex, dynamic area and it was very clear from the advice and expertise evaluated by the Scrum Steering Group that there is no quick and easy fix. There are many contributing factors and we need to take a complete view of the scrum environment including engagement, Laws, forces and player welfare.”

“I would like to thank all Unions for their continued commitment to the important process of improvement in this area and their full support of this initial trial. I would also like to thank the RFU for their ongoing support of the Scrum Forces Project in Bath.”

David Barnes, International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) representative on the Scrum Steering Group and Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) Rugby Manager, said: “The number of scrum resets in the elite Game has reached an unprecedented level and the new three-step process is a significant advance in trying to address the issue. As the IRPA player representative on the Scrum Steering Group, players will have input to any potential changes being considered.”
“Whilst it is vital for the scrum to remain an integral, combative element of the Game, the players fully support the IRB research into reducing the number of resets, while also ensuring player welfare remains the key priority.”

Didier Retière, France’s Rugby World Cup 2011 forwards coach, current France Under 20 coach and Scrum Steering Group member, said: “As coaches and players we have a collective responsibility to buy in to this process and work together to address issues at scrum time.
Graham Rowntree, RFU forwards coach, said: “We need to have less collapses and resets and anything that can improve this vital part of our Game should be applauded. I will be very interested to see how the trial goes.”

The revised sequence has yielded positive outcomes and it should be noted that the sequence is just one area of the scrum that is being reviewed by the IRB and its Member Unions.
The Group examined the results of extensive testing of engagement sequence variations in live and machine environments in a trial driven by the IRB Scrum Forces Project which provides in-depth analysis of biomechanical forces in the scrum.

The unprecedented IRB-funded three-year study is being run by the Sport, Health & Exercise Science group at the University of Bath in collaboration with the RFU and is intended to identify better playing, coaching and refereeing techniques for this key facet of the Game.

Leading experts from the coaching, medical and scientific fields are driving the two-phase study which has involved the whole spectrum of the Rugby playing population, from men’s and women’s international and elite professional teams to university, community club and school level.
Phase one, set against a machine environment, has been completed and phase two which will holistically examine forces in contested live scrums, is already underway with the RFU assisting in providing suitable clubs and teams from the Aviva Premiership to the community level to assist the study.

While the “crouch, touch, set” sequence has been selected for global trial, two other sequences will continue to be examined as part of the University of Bath research project. The outcomes of the Scrum Forces Project phase one have been presented to the IRB Rugby Committee and Scrum Steering Group for consideration. Phase two results will be presented during 2012 and early 2013.
The Scrum Steering Group comprises: David Barnes (IRPA), Mike Cron (NZRU), Didier Retière (FFR), Brian O’Shea (ARU), Norm Mottram (USA Rugby), Richie Dixon (GRU), Ken Quarrie (NZRU), Graham Mourie (Chairman of IRB Rugby Committee), John Jeffrey (IRB Council Member & SRU), Gavin Williams (RFU), Dr Martin Raftery (IRB Chief Medical Officer), Paddy O’Brien (IRB Referee Manager).
Scrum Forces Project Group consists of the Scrum Steering Group plus the following: Keith Stokes (University of Bath), Dr Mike England (RFU), Colin Fuller (IRB Risk Management Consultant), Grant Trewartha (University of Bath), Ezio Preatoni (University of Bath).

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Exclusive: Scrum engagement law changed (ELV)

Exclusive (it would seem): The IRB have approved the change to the scrum engagement sequence for trial globally from next season (us in August, Jan 2013 for SH teams. This is in addition to those announced last week. You will remember that while this was mentioned in last week’s communique it was suggested it was going into a further round of discussions. Not so it would seem:

The new sequence will be “Crouch, Touch, Set”.

Thoughts??

10. Law 20.1 (g) Forming a Scrum Current 20.1 (g):
The referee will call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing props outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “pause”. Following a pause the referee will then call “engage”. The front rows may then engage. The “engage” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.

Amend 20.1 (g) to read:
The referee will call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then engage. The “set” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.

IRB scrum news (and Refblog thoughts!)

News from the IRB about scrums.I can already hear the smirking of people relating to the put in being refereeing, but in my view, that is missing the point. Fact – referees cant look at more than one thing at once. If the front rows didnt mess around, then we wouldnt need to focus on them, and maybe watch the put in. They do, so we cant!

I do get a little tired at people blaming refs for all the mess. If the players didn’t try and cheat in this area, it would be simple. Rugby players don’t pass the ball forward (a law) but will do many things against scrum law. Why? Somehow, this all seems to come back to the referee, with very little comment/direction focussed on the players. Just a thought….

Key bit for me:

IRB policy which mandates that referees should crack down on illegal front row binding with a collective emphasis on ensuring that the tight head prop binds on the body of the loose head prop and not the arm and the loose head prop adopts the correct body position and binds on the body of the opposition tight head.

Looking forward to Saturday already!

Ref

IRB and 6N coaches commit to tackling scrum

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 26 January 2011
IRB and 6N coaches commit to tackling scrum 

Coaches from the Six Nations participants pledge to work with the IRB to deliver a stable scrum platform at the elite level

Coaches from the RBS Six Nations participating Unions have thrown their support behind the IRB’s commitment to address scrum issues at the elite level of the Game.

Currently 60% of all scrums collapse in Tier 1 internationals and 40% of scrums are required to be reset while the average time taken to complete a scrum has risen from 41 seconds to 53.

Despite a slight decrease in the number of collapses and resets since the new engagement sequence was introduced last year, the IRB remains determined to tackle the issues and ensure that this critical facet of the Game is a spectacle and a contest.

Coaching representatives from England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales pledged to work with the IRB to deliver a stable scrum platform at a highly positive and productive forum in London on Tuesday evening.

In addition to expressing their support for the scrum engagement sequence, the coaches also gave their backing to the IRB’s policy of the strict application of scrum Law, including ensuring straight put-ins. The coaches also support the IRB policy which mandates that referees should crack down on illegal front row binding with a collective emphasis on ensuring that the tight head prop binds on the body of the loose head prop and not the arm and the loose head prop adopts the correct body position and binds on the body of the opposition tight head.

This collaborative approach will be critical in assisting to address the problematic aspects of the scrum. Last year a similar approach agreed by all Tier 1 coaches led to a crackdown in key areas of Law: offside at the breakdown; offside from kicks; illegal maul formation and strict application of the tackle Law. This resulted in a return to attacking Rugby.

“The meeting was extremely constructive and highly productive. All found it beneficial and it was encouraging to see universal agreement from the coaches about the need to continue to penalise the clear and the obvious in the five key areas of Law and in particular the need to address the scrum issues that are currently experienced at elite level,” said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien.

“We are encouraged that teams recognise there is a collective responsibility to ensure that the high number of collapses and resets is reduced. The coaches expressed their full support for referees to employ a zero tolerance policy towards engagement offences and have given a commitment that their teams will endeavour to be compliant in producing a stable, steady scrum by binding correctly. The scrum is an integral facet of the Game and by working together we can target the issues while ensuring that player welfare continues to be the most important consideration.”

A directive will be issued to all Unions reinforcing the message. The coaches forum has become a regular fixture ahead of the RBS Six Nations, Tri Nations, June and November Tests and underscores the IRB’s commitment to an open and transparent process of collaboration and communication between the IRB and its Member Unions in all areas of refereeing practice.