Renowned referee, Nigel Owens, has outlined what he believes to be the key to the perfect scrum.
In an interview with the BBC, Nigel Owens, outlined what he believes to be the perfect scrum. The referees insight is interesting, considering that during the Six Nations there were 63 collapses for every 100 hundred scrums. Indeed during the tournament 49% of all scrums ended with either a free kick or penalty being awarded.
Incessant scrummaging has led to much time being lost as numerous resets are required. Such is the issue that World Rugby revealed they would be trialling new scrum laws at numerous tournaments during 2016. Something which we covered here.
On the eve of the World Cup, Owens perspective is therefore pertinent. The Welsh referee believes that the scrum is best served by a no nonsense approach from all involved.
To fulfil its function the scrum needs a positive approach from players and coaches, and a strong referee who can deal with any negativity. If everyone buys into this process then there is no reason why the scrum cannot continue to be an integral and fascinating part of the game.
The respected whistle blower added, ‘A perfect scrum would be that the scrum is up, the bindings are long, one team is pushing one team back, or they are both holding the same pressure so nobody’s moving and the scrum is perfect’.
Owens then detailed what is necessary to achieve a ‘perfect scrum’ using a step by step approach.
We will look first of all at the set-up sequence of crouch, bind and set. The teams will come together. We’ll say the ‘crouch’, and the players will come down. When they come down to a crouch position, the referee will then look to see if the players are square and that the height is good; so they are not too low or not too high – that they are in a good position no lower than hip height and that we see one of the six shoulders. If one of the shoulders are tucked in, then the scrum won’t be square when they set; that’s what we look for and we then call the ‘crouch’.
Then they ‘bind’ on the opposition; so players will reach on the opposition – which gives the correct distance apart for the safety of getting the scrum together. In that procedure we have to make sure that there is space between the two shoulders; so we’re looking for temple-to-temple on the distance head-to-head. If the shoulders are touching; which means there is no space, then the referee will have to call them up and reset.
Once we’ve done the ‘set’, the teams will come together. Then it becomes totally passive; nothing can move now – the teams can’t start pushing until the ball goes into the scrum.
While many of us have long being exasperated with crooked feeds into the scrum, Owens states that referees look for a ‘credible feed’. Such a feed occurs when, ‘at least part of the ball is touching the middle of the scrum in the tunnel’.
The final stage of the scrummaging processes begins when both sides have bound correctly and the referee asks the scrum half to feed the ball. It is ‘only when the ball goes into the middle of the scrum can the teams then start to push’.
On the eve of the World Cup, Nigel Owens interpretations are interesting. Indeed while many are aware that sides cannot push until the ball has entered the scrum, his view to feeding the ball is more lenient than that defined in World Rugby’s law book which states, ‘The scrum half must throw in the ball straight along the middle line, so that it first touches the ground immediately beyond the width of the nearer prop’s shoulders’.
Nevertheless the interview leaves much food for thought.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena