Blues coach Kirwan calls for overhaul of scrum laws

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan believes that problems in the scrum have become so serious that SANZAR and the International Rugby Board need to put their heads together to sort the problems out.

Kirwan says that SANZAR and the IRB must get together and introduce an immediate change to the way the set piece is officiated

The Blues coach has not been quiet about the problems rugby is facing in the scrum currently but he has now called for trial law change mid-competition.

“I know what needs to happen, it’s pretty easy,” Kirwan told Fairfax NZ News as his team prepares for Saturday’s visit to Eden Park by the Highlanders.

“Above us they need to make a decision and let the halfback put the ball in without the call from the ref. It’s as simple as that, clean the game up and we’d be fine. “

“I think the IRB and Sanzar need to make that decision, and I’m sure (Highlanders coach) Jamie (Joseph) and I would be quite happy to trial it this week if they want. Something needs to be done, and that’s it.”

The IRB have made changes to the laws around the scrum by making the referees giving halfbacks an indication when they want the ball to go in, rather than making the call aloud but the problems in the scrum appear to have worsened in many cases.

The changes that were made have not gone as far as the IRB’s scrum law recommendation panel urged and the set piece has become a mess as attacking teams struggle to clear clean ball from their own put-ins.

Kirwan believes that difficulties at the set piece are part of the reason that so many referees are under performing.

On Monday SANZAR made changes to their refereeing panel by dropping Lourens van der Merwe, Francisco Pastrana and Angus Gardner after some poor performances.

“I know referees are probably the focus this week, and a few guys have been dropped,” said Kirwan.

“That’s a consequence of what’s happening because they have been concerned so much on what’s happening at the scrum instead of the full game.

“If you just let the halfbacks call them, a lot of the problems will be resolved, then the referee can stand back and have a look at the two or three things he needs to control.

“At the moment the referee is up so close to a scrum (his) vision is difficult. The solution is simple – we just need to have the courage to change mid-season.”

While Kirwan is not in favour of the current way scrums are handled he is dead set against de-powering the scrums as it would make the game more like Rugby League.

“Our game is great because we’ve got the giraffes, we’ve got the front-rowers, and we’ve got the halfbacks. The scrum is a great part of this game, but we just need to let the advantage go to the team that’s putting it in. Then if you’re good enough, push us off it when we’ve put the ball in.

“That’s the little advantage you have knowing when the ball going in, But you’ve still got a couple of tons of angry men trying to push each other off the ball, so leave it as a fair contest.

“It’s not just our problem, it’s the game’s problem at the moment. If we can try that simple thing it will clean everything up.”

With the Rugby World Cup just over a year away the IRB are unlikely to make any real changes before the game’s showpiece event but once that has passed they would be more inclined to implement new laws.

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