International Rugby
IRB acknowledge uncontested scrums issue
January 21, 2009
French Rugby union Federation (FFR) president Bernard Lapasset speaks during a press conference in Paris, 08 october 2007. Argentina's advance to a first World Cup semi-final was recognised 08 October when Pumas pair Felipe Contempomi and Juan Martin Hernandez were announced as two of the five nominees for the 2007 IRB Player of the Year award.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset has acknowledged concern about uncontested scrums © Getty Images

The International Rugby Board has confirmed that the issue of uncontested scrums is already on its agenda for discussion.

The statement from the sport's governing body follows the latest example of uncontested scrums blighting a high-profile clash. Last weekend, London Wasps' Heineken Cup victory over Leinster at Twickenham saw scrums reduced to uncontested set pieces before half-time when Leinster lost props C J van der Linde and Stan Wright to injury with just one amongst their replacements.

Following the game, Wasps boss Ian McGeechan urged the IRB or Premier Rugby to adopt the system used in France, where a bench increased to eight players must include an entire front row.

"I don't see why Premier Rugby does not put the request to the IRB to take that on board," said McGeechan. "It's something the clubs ought to drive. It's the best way to sort out the situation, and for it to be applied only in professional rugby because it would put too much strain on resources lower down. I'll be looking to put the matter to Premier Rugby myself."

In response to concern about the prevalance of uncontested scrums the IRB has underlined their attempts to ensure the scrum remains an, "integral part of the fabric of the game". They insist they have been the driving force behind extensive global scrum research and this year will launch the most comprehensive study of the scrum in the game's history when it embarks on a three-year analysis of scrum forces.

"The IRB is aware that there are issues relating to uncontested scrums. The IRB Rugby Committee is meeting in April to discuss possible solutions to address these issues without impacting on the character of the Game," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The Rugby Committee will consider these proposals along with other important Rugby and Law issues, including the global trial of the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs), at its meeting before putting forward recommendations to the IRB Council at its May meeting."

"Any potential solution to tackle the circumstances that lead to uncontested scrums will have player welfare as its primary concern, while ensuring that the unique shape and character of Rugby is retained. It is also important that potential solutions are applicable across all levels of the Game.

"The primary goal of this unprecedented study is to determine the best possible techniques for playing, coaching and refereeing what is a critical area of the Game," added Lapasset.


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