Laws of the Game
IRB unveils new plan to counter scrum chaos
May 9, 2013
The IRB hopes the new scrum sequence will would reduce impact on engagement by up to 25 percent © Getty Images
Rugby chiefs have unveiled their latest bid to cope with the problem of scrum collapses in major international matches, by announcing the global trial of a new "crouch, bind, set" engagement sequence.
Fans at major matches have had to put up with repeated instances of re-set scrums slowing down the flow of the game. Indeed, it has become something of an event in a top-class rugby union fixture for a scrum to be completed first time and without either side conceding a penalty.
Although designed as a safety measure, the likes of ex-England hooker Brian Moore believe all engagement sequences have done is create a situation where either the two front rows charge at one another or, as can happen, deliberately hold back to try to win a penalty against their opponents.
In a statement on Wednesday, the International Rugby Board (IRB) said it hoped "crouch, bind, set" would reduce impact on engagement by up to 25 percent in elite competition. Implementation will begin at the start of the next season in both hemispheres.
In a revision of the "crouch, touch, set" engagement sequence currently being trialled, props will be expected to bind using their outside arm after the referee has called "bind" in the sequence. The front rows will maintain the bind until the referee calls "set". At that point, the two packs will engage.
International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset promised referees would be stricter in enforcing existing scrum rules, such as the need to put the ball in straight, with the scrum square and stationary.
"The implementation of the revised sequence alone is not about overcoming all the challenges of the elite scrum, but it is a forward step," Lapasset said. "There is a collective responsibility for coaches, players and administrators to make the scrum a positive, fair and, above all, safe contest."