Scrum mess persists

The scrum mess, an tedious mess, persists, if the figures for four of this weekend’s Tests is anything to go by. Tedious would be bad enough but it is also dangerous.

At one stage during the match between Argentina and Ireland, a series of scrums meant that play did not move from one boring spot for 5 minutes and 1 second.

The first scrum in the match between Australia and Wales took 1 minute and 47 seconds from whistle to emerge. There were 29 scrums in the match. 29 x 1 minute 47 seconds is about 51 minutes 43 seconds. Imagine the hue and cry were that to happen. That is tedious.

Here are some figures abstracted from scrum statistics for four major Tests played in the Southern Hemisphere last Saturday.

New Zealand vs France: 28 scrums, 14 resets, 2 free kicks, 2 penalties – 10 collapses
Australia vs Wales: 29 scrums, 11 resets, 5 free kicks, 3 penalties – 8 collapses
South Africa vs England: 20 scrums, 7 reset, 2 free kicks, 2 penalties – 6 collapses
Argentina vs Ireland: 23 scrums, 17 resets, 3 free kicks, 2 penalties – 15 collapses


Scrums: 100
Resets: 49
Free kicks: 12
Penalties: 9
Collapses: 39

At one stage during the South Africa-England match John Smit, the South African and hooker, drew the referee’s attention to the danger of collapsed scrums, saying we have only one neck.

It takes one collapse to break that one neck. We are talking about 39% collapses of awarded scrums.

The duty to keep the scrums working as they should be belongs to the players. The referee can only react to something that has already gone wrong, which may be too late.

Rugby wants to keep the scrum as a contest. That is understandable because if it does not do so it will deprive a certain shape of player a chance to play the game in a laudable way.

Would drastic action help? A famous Welsh referee once sent both sets of front rows off. That is drastic. Ordering uncontested scrums on the grounds that there are no players competent enough to play in the front rows. That would be drastic.

It would also be sad.

A broken neck is sad.

How is this for an idea? If a scrum needs to be reset, that scrum becomes an uncontested scrum.


365 Digital

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