Take a step back to the amateur and semi-professional era of our wonderful sport, and reminisce of the times where Scrums would be formed in an instant. The coming together of 16 man would happen as soon as the Referee had signalled scrum. The Set Piece then would be seen as a platform to restart the game, with the backs endeavouring to go forward and penetrate a static defence. Mulling over the tactical aspects in a game, making the most of a Scrum and being effective in attack is a superb opportunity to get at least 5 points on the board. With the added pace and power of backs nowadays, utilising a Scrum to cross over the Gain Line would be a undeniably good option, so why do teams not look to gain that advantage?
Without Scrums the Union game may be awfully too similar to its League counterpart. Without the more technical encounters like Scrum’s, Union wouldn’t draw in the 60, 70,000 plus fans it does in England. Therefore, the new variation from the IRB, which is pretty much the third in the same amount of years, is now, ‘Crouch, Bind, Set’. This has been introduced to both increase the safety and to benefit the stability of the Scrum and resultantly the flow of the game. With the attritional, hard-impact Scrum’s now becoming distant memories, Front-Row’s will now have a job to become the top of their art via new methods.
The real question is, is how to Front-Row’s need to adapt to become potent shovers? Will it be a case of making Prop’s heavier so that when the engagement takes place the initial shove will secure the ball or lighter as now it all rests hugely on their technique?
Here is what Coaches and Players a like will have to look at as to stay on the right side of the Law-
When the Crouch call is given Front Row’s will need to ensure they take up the correct, straight position in line with the opposing Scrum a yard or so apart. The two packs are likely to come closer together when setting as to be able to gain a suitable bind on the opposing Props.
After the Bind is called both sets of Props will have to bind solidly on the back or just above the under arm and any discrepancy or issue with the bind will now be easier to spot. This will hopefully then mean that Scrums will be driven straight and competed fairly with minimal boaring or illegal binding.
As normal the Scrum will then come together and wait to compete once the Scrum Half has thrown the ball into the tunnel.
However, not only will the Scrum be more manageable you’d hope for the officials, the antics of the Scrum Halves will also be under the spotlight. After seasons of angled feeding and Referees rightfully turning a blind eye to it, as to let the game gain some sort of fluency, they will now be stamping down on any illegal feeding. Parallel to that, Hookers will now be having to regain or learn the ability to strike the ball as the IRB now have asked for a strike as to help reassure officials of a straight feed.
All in all, Scrums are beginning to take a similar shape to those of old. After season’s of frustration and impatience with the continual collapses of the set piece, will these new engagement laws finally bring an end to all that precious game time wasted…