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IRB Announces Scrum Initiative
17 NOVEMBER 2006
[..... The Law change will see the implementation of a four stage ìcrouch, touch, pause, engageî sequence for the initial scrum engagement at all levels of the Game from January 1, 2007.
îAn essential element of rugby is its physicality. ......
ìThe IRB believes that the contested scrum is an integral part of the Game and that Rugby is unique in that its playing charter provides the opportunity for individuals of all shapes and sizes to play the Game. That said, we have taken expert medical and technical advice that indicates that it is now appropriate for the Game to adopt a less vigorous scrum engagement sequence,î added Dr Millar.
......two key areas were reviewed. The first was information from the IRB Medical Advisory Committee on the engagement, and the second was the biomechanical processes involved in the scrum.
.... the gap between the two teams at engagement needed to be better quantified to prevent practices such as charging and this has led to the Law change in the scrum.
1. The new Law to be applied for the scrum engagement will be: The referee will call ìcrouchî then ìtouchî. The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing propís outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call ìpauseî. Following a pause the referee will then call ìengageî. The front rows may then engage. The ìengageî call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready. .....
2. The scrum must be stationary and the middle line of the scrum must be parallel to the goal lines. A team must not shove the scrum away from the mark before the ball is thrown in. ......
3. The front rows must crouch so that when they meet, each playerís head and shoulders are no lower than their hips. This will ensure that both front rows are at as suitable horizontal height. This reinforces current Law 20.1(g).
The Law change will come into effect on January 1, 2007 with recommendations 2 and 3 coming into effect concurrently
ìThis new engagement sequence will standardise the distance the two sets of forwards are apart, reduce the collision at engagement and will assist in ensuring that both sets of forwards are at the best horizontal height possible. This is crucial to the successful engagement of the scrum,î said the worldís most capped front row forward, Englishman Jason Leonard who has assisted the Law Project Group in its review of the scrum.
ìWith the reduced impact and forwards at the correct height we will see an associated improvement in the bind. This should also assist in minimising collapsing of the front row. It also ensures that the scrum remains a true contest which is important for the Game. It in no way impairs both teams ability to contest for the ball,î added Leonard.
ìWe see comprehensive educational and technical training programmes, allied with sound research that seeks to increase understanding of the biomechanics and injury risks involved in the scrum as the way forward,î said New Zealand Rugby Union Manager of Research and Injury Prevention Ken Quarrie.
........ This Law change will also go hand in hand with the zero tolerance policy on crooked feeds to the scrum that will come into effect on January 1, 2007.