'This is our last chance to save the scrum'
August 9, 2013
The new scrum engagement process will debut in this year's battle for southern hemisphere supremacy © Getty Images
Former England hooker Brian Moore has urged the sport's leading referees to grab 'the last chance to save the scrum' by strictly enforcing the laws governing the set-piece.
Moore, who won 69 Test caps during an international career that also included two tours with the British & Irish Lions and who has more recently carved out a reputation as an outspoken pundit, has long been a critic of the modern scrum and labelled it 'a grotesque farce' earlier this year.
His vast experience, and scathing criticism of the handling of the scrum, prompted an invite from the International Rugby Board to address the world's elite referees at a conference in Paris earlier today.
PA Sport reports that the officials had gathered in the French capital for a workshop ahead of the implementation of the new 'crouch, bind, set' scrum engagement protocols. A high-profile trial - aimed at improving player welfare after an alarming amount of collapses in recent years - began on August 1 with the forthcoming battle for The Rugby Championship crown and the new domestic season in Europe set to be key testing grounds in the coming months.
"This is our last chance to save the scrum," Moore told his audience with his sentiments echoed by John Jeffrey, chairman of the IRB's rugby committee, who described the trial laws as a "seminal moment" in the development of the sport.
It is also hoped that the changes will help reform the reputation of the scrum with countless re-sets having contributed to its battered profile. In a bid to aid those efforts, Moore had the referees pack down against each other in order to better understand the mechanics while emphasising the importance of a straight feed, of scrum stability and of props binding properly.
English referee Wayne Barnes scrummed down against Australian Steve Walsh and, at one stage, the lean South African Craig Joubert was tasked with driving against Moore.
IRB research has offered hope that the scrum may reclaim its place as a pivotal and engaging aspect of the game. Reports suggest that by having players bind before they engage, the force of the two packs coming together is reduced by 25%. The referee will then wait until the set-piece is stable before instructing the scrum-half to put the ball into the scrum straight with a call of 'yes nine'. Only then will the two packs be allowed to push.
If the trials are accepted in full law next summer, then teams will have had two years playing under the new scrum sequence before the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
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