IRB to crackdown on scrum laws

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced a crackdown on scrum infringements and illegal tackles ahead of this weekend’s internationals.

This week saw the global governing body stage a meeting of the world’s top referees in London and chief among their concerns when it came to Test match rugby union were the issues of reset and collapsed scrums and illegal, off-the-ball tackles.

Now the IRB has promised stricter policing of illegal clearing out of players off the ball at the ruck and illegal tackles in open play.

The sight of scrums being repeatedly reset can prove baffling to even keen rugby fans, let alone newcomers to the sport, while denying a side with an edge in the set-piece a legitimate chance to press home their advantage.

In a statement, the IRB said an analysis of a cross-section of matches between leading rugby nations over the past three years has identified an increase in scrum infringements in this area at the highest level of the sport.

According to IRB statistics, international matches now average 18 scrums with an average of 18 collapsed or reset scrums.

Average match time consumed by the scrum is currently 16 percent and climbs as high as 25 percent in some cases.

“The scrum is an integral part of the fabric of the game, providing a unique sporting spectacle and contest,” said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

“There is an obligation for referees and players to ensure that this critical area is played in accordance with law, while the promotion of player welfare is of paramount importance.

“The referees have been reminded of their obligation to penalise clear and obvious offences.

“Particular attention will be focused on front rows adhering to the engagement sequence, observation of the mark and the correct binding techniques.

“Addressing these key elements of scrum officiating will assist with reducing the number of resets or collapses.”

The IRB also insisted officials were committed to “stricter vigilance” when it came to players being offside from kicks, illegal scrum feeds and obstruction at the formation of the maul.

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