New scrum law under the spotlight
ESPN Staff
August 19, 2013
Australia's Will Genia prepares to feed a scrum, Australia v New Zealand, The Rugby Championship, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, August 17, 2013
Scrums are in the headlines at the moment © Getty Images

The IRB has asked New Zealand's Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to help it assess the effectiveness of the new scrum engagement law designed to improve player safety and reduce scrum collapses.

ACC officials say they were approached by the IRB because of a previous study it carried out on scrum safety, as part of its rugby-focused injury prevention work.

"ACC is uniquely positioned to assess the safety aspect of interventions such as law changes because of the comprehensive data it collects about injuries through its claims process," sports programs manager Isaac Carlson said after the revised calls of "crouch, bind, set" were on display in a high-profile match in Australia for the first time in the Bledisloe Cup Test at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday. "Everyone who sees a doctor or other health professional in New Zealand because of a rugby injury automatically has an ACC claim lodged on their behalf."

Carlson said all rugby-related claims received in New Zealand throughout the season will be analysed. "That will give us a picture of how well the new law is working in terms of improving player safety. The law change is expected to enhance player safety because props in the scrum will be required to bind their arms before the rest of the players engage or 'come together' in the scrum."

Carlson said the consensus is that this should help prevent scrum collapses, which is where a lot of serious injuries can occur. "The new law is also expected to reduce impact on engagement, and if you hit something with less force that will potentially reduce both the likelihood and severity of injury."

The IRB will assess the trial next year, aiming to have any amendments in place a year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.

There were teething troubles with the new calls on Saturday, which the Wallabies and the All Blacks had expected. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said after the match that teams would become used to the law. "The great thing about it, I thought, was that we didn't have too many collapses," he said. "So once we iron out the whole thing and get used to it, I think it will be great for the game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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