A new scrum call, “crouch, touch, set” is set to replace the current format of “crouch, touch, pause, engage” in a global trial next season.
This revised engagement process will be trialled alongside the five Law amendments announced in May and forms on part of a larger project intended to improve the scrum.
While the new revised sequence has yielded positive results, it is just one area of the scrum that is being reviewed by the IRB and its Member Unions and forms part of an IRB funded three year study being run by the Sport, Health & Exercise Science group at the University of Bath with the RFU and is intended to identify better playing, coaching and refereeing techniques for this key facet of the Game.
A meeting of the IRB’s expert Scrum Steering Group, which is made up of Union and players’ representatives, former players and other experts has given the new sequence its backing.
The sequence will see the front rows crouch then touch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then set the scrum.
In total, six different sequences were researched at six different levels of the game, including Women’s Rugby, as part of the initial trial with “Crouch, touch, set” found to be the most successful.
IRB Rugby Committee Chairman and former All Black captain Graham Mourie said, “Most people accept the scrum is currently a problematic area of the Game. The IRB is committed to addressing these issues and has tasked the specialist steering group to identify the causes and solutions. This is a positive first step, but it should be noted that we must wait for the outcomes of the three-year Scrum Forces Project before we can take an holistic approach to the scrum.”
Currently scrums account for about approximately 17 per cent of match time in the top tiers of rugby and over half of all scrums result in collapses or resets.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset added that “The scrum is a complex, dynamic area and that there is no quick and easy fix.”
“There are many contributing factors and we need to take a complete view of the scrum environment including engagement, Laws, forces and player welfare,” added Lapasset.
David Barnes, the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) representative and England forwards coach Graham Rowntree have given the new sequence their backing.
“Whilst it is vital for the scrum to remain an integral, combative element of the Game, the players fully support the IRB research into reducing the number of resets, while also ensuring player welfare remains the key priority.”
“We need to have less collapses and resets and anything that can improve this vital part of our Game should be applauded,” said Rowntree.