In an article last week I rather took the piss out of the IRB’s decision to lose the call of ‘yes, nine’ at scrum time.


I was ready to be disappointed when it was introduced with some surprising rapidity this weekend, thinking it would be something of an anti-climax and nothing to write home (or indeed here) about.

I hold my hands up (much like a number 9 at the ruck) and have to say what a great rule change this might well turn out to be!

For the most part it was just boring signals from the various refs but then in the game at the Stoop one man more than made up for the dull stuff used by his colleagues in other matches.

At most scrums he stood on the opposite side to the 9, bent down to watch the front rows ‘bind’ on his instruction – but then he jumped up off his feet and pointed to indicate that ball should now be put in.

Brilliant! It was just like the Morecambe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn – the conductor having to leap in the air to signal Eric on the piano. You had to laugh – the only thing missing was the baton (and the baby grand obviously) – full marks to the ref for entertainment value.

If only he’d remembered to leave the field skipping and patting his hands alternately behind his head to the M & W theme tune it would have been perfect.

I can only hope that he will add to his repertoire next week by discarding the whistle and nod to the opposite skipper to signal the kick-off – the match will start when he calls “Brace yourself, Rodney!” to the forwards waiting to receive.

Now, if only he could be persuaded to wear a Batman outfit (with one of the 9s in a Robin costume) he’d be the most popular ref anywhere.

So, I say well done to the IRB and come on lets have more innovations like this!

I know it might prove to be Canard but surely worth a try!