Getting The Scrum Right

Gloucester put in at the scrum against Saracens in the Aviva Premiership.

Chris Whitehead thinks the new IRB Law on the scrum has improved things, but problems remain

I firmly believe that the new scrum laws, introduced at the start of the season, have helped to reduce the amount of collapsed set-pieces this year.

That is not to say the problem has vanished, however.

For me as a hooker, there is still too much time wasted in too many games trying to enable a scrum to firstly take place and secondly, to finish.

I have played in some and I have watched some too.

For fans watching a game live, there must be few things as frustrating as seeing the game clock keep ticking while the referee continually lectures the front row.

Supporters pay a lot of money to come and watch rugby. And the last thing they want to see is fatties in the front row ruining their viewing by failing to get it right in the scrums.

So let’s do something about that. Why not stop the clock when a scrum is called and start it again, the moment the ball is away?

If there was a problem in the scrum, at least the fans wouldn’t feel like they were being cheated in terms of value for money.

I also believe that referees should spend less time coaching those front rows into getting it right. Believe me, the players know exactly what they are trying to do.

Front rows are experienced and there are lots of different ways of fooling a referee. It is absolutely the players' responsibility to make sure there is a clean pushing contest at scrum time.

If it is going wrong in there, it is the players' fault.

Look at the best referees like Nigel Owens. He will give one warning and then start penalising sides for not getting it right.

It’s amazing how quickly they start scrummaging properly with the threat of a yellow card hanging over their heads.

If a lot more refs were like that, there would be a lot less problems.


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