Aviva Premiership
Premiership to be key scrum testing ground
ESPN Staff
August 29, 2013
Northampton and Leicester pack down during last season's Premiership finale at Twickenham © Getty Images

The forthcoming Aviva Premiership season will be the latest testing ground for the global scrum trial with any permanent change to the engagement sequence set to be confirmed next year.

From the start of the new season next month, referees will instruct players to "Crouch, Bind, Set" at scrum time in a bid to limit the number of resets and in doing so improve player welfare. Props will now be expected to crouch on the referee's call. Bind using their outside arm after the referee has called bind. The front rows will maintain the bind until the referee calls set. At that point, the two packs will engage.

Implementation of the new sequence, a revision of the 'Crouch, Touch, Set" sequence that was trialled last season, follows extensive evaluation during the recent IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, which showed the potential for a more stable platform and more successful scrums. The new sequence has since been adopted in the Rugby Championship, South Africa's Currie Cup, New Zealand's ITM Cup and France's Top 14.

The results of this trial, along with another involving the television match official protocols, will be considered by IRB Council at its annual meeting in 2014 with any law amendments set to be approved next summer to ensure they are in place a year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The scrum is a fundamental and dynamic part of our game. It is important that we continue to promote the best possible player welfare standards and this trial process is about putting players first and delivering a reduction of the forces on engagement, which could have significant positive effects on long-term player welfare. I would like to thank all Unions for their support and enthusiasm throughout this process."

The IRB will also instruct referees to ensure that the ball does not enter the tunnel unless the scrum is square and stationary and that a straight throw-in is strictly policed. Lapasset added: "The implementation of the revised sequence alone is not about overcoming all the challenges of the scrum but it is a forward step. There is a collective responsibility for coaches, players and administrators to make the scrum a positive, fair and, above all, safe contest. Match officials will be stricter when refereeing the existing law."

RFU Community Rugby Medical Director Dr Mike England, a member of the advisory Scrum Steering Group, said: "The RFU puts a high priority on the welfare of our players at all levels of the game. As with our recent Headcase education programme about concussion injuries, this announcement is an excellent example of how our scientific research into injury prevention can help inform developments in the laws of the game in a sensible way - without affecting the spirit in which rugby is played.

"The RFU is proud to be a key part of this work on the scrum engagement technique as part of its wider programme of player welfare and safety initiatives."

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