International Rugby
Moore claims modern scrum is 'a grotesque farce'
ESPN Staff
March 29, 2013
Former England hooker Brian Moore, Wales v England, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, March 16, 2013
Former England hooker Brian Moore has long called for reform of the management of the scrum © Getty Images
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Former England hooker Brian Moore has labelled the modern scrum "a grotesque farce" that he believes is "blighting the game".

Moore, who won 69 Test caps during an eight-year international career before carving out a career as a journalist and TV analyst, has been a long-time critic of the way the set-piece is managed at the top level of the game and has now urged the International Rugby Board to act before it is too late.

"Something has gone very wrong with the scrum," he wrote in a column for the BBC while highlighting stats that revealed only 37% of scrums in the recent Six Nations resulted in play being re-started. "Instead of being a means of restarting the game it has become a way of winning penalties...The important elements of scrummaging - engagement, binding of the front rows and feeding of the ball - have been truncated into a split second.

"This means referees cannot watch all parts of the scrum and players know that if they get one element wrong, they are in a disadvantageous position and are likely to get pushed backwards. As a result, they collapse the scrum knowing the referee is unlikely to know who is responsible and is as likely to blame one pack as the other."

Moore traces how the scrum became "not a hooking and pushing contest but one of power pushing" with the dawn of professionalism with each pack trying to push as early as the referee would allow. He highlights how the increased focus on power has led to more and more scrums collapsing and Moore now not only fears for sport's reputation but also the safety of players unless the sport's stakeholders act.

"To be frank, the whole edifice has become a grotesque farce and is blighting the game. Not only has the scrum become tedious, but it is dangerous - and the International Rugby Board knows it. Paying customers are rightly registering their disapproval and asking where the value for money is in watching the game.

"Will the IRB listen? We will have to wait and see, but if they don't, they had better get ready for a major lawsuit because the first injured player in an international match will take them to the cleaners."

But Moore insists a workable solution is within the powerbrokers' grasp. "Ironically, the solution is the simple application of the existing laws," he concluded. "And the proof is where the laws are properly applied - at junior level - where they do not have these serious problems with the scrum."

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