Law changes will make it much easier for number eights to attack off the base of the scrum.
In the amateur era, it was very common to see number eights break from the back of scrums and thunder into slender fly halves who often acted as mere speed bumps.
Over recent years though that sight has become rare, with defending scrum halves effectively standing alongside the eight as he picked up the ball. As a result, the big ball carrying number eights were unable to gain any momentum before attempting to charge down the fly half’s channel.
However this is all about to change, after World Rugby’s most recent law changes mean that the defending half back cannot go past the attacking flanker and must remain within a meter of the scrum, in terms of width.
Although this rule change will make it easier for under pressure scrums to clear the ball, it also ensures that number eights have more space from which to launch an attack.
Therefore, powerful number eights such has Billy Vunipola, Kieran Read, Sergio Parisse, and Duane Vermeulen will now be able to use the scrum to launch attacks from anywhere on the field.
As this law change came into being at the turn of the year, it comes as a surprise that teams have not yet used their number eight’s to greater effect.
Nevertheless, Billy Vunipola illustrated how to make full use of the law change in the lead up to Anthony Watson’s try against France. Breaking from the base of the scrum, the English number eight created the momentum and space for his side to expose an overlap on the left hand side of the field.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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