Major Scrummaging Changes
According to the old tune," The times they are a' changing". They would certainly appear to be insofar as the scrum in both League and Union looks set to develop over the next few seasons.
Already the "powers that be" in the 13 a side code have introduced rules and timing regulations for this season which would appear to herald the end of the tradition of six forwards from each side packing down against each other in competition to win possession.
There can be no competition when in reality a scrum half can throw the ball at the feet of his own loose forward, and with no push or technique from those in the front or second row, merely pick up the ball and continue play to the backs. A mockery of a scrum and Stuart Barnes, an excellent Union scribe, is correct when he states that "League uses scrums to restart a game." He is also correct when he considers the use and working of the scrum in the 15 a side code. Boldly he suggests, "A scrum should take a maximum of 30 seconds (the time period currently being suggested for the future League scrum) to engage; but after 'crouch, bind, set', the reality is...you have lost interest." As he says," the game has a problem". Stuart would have done well to conclude that both games have a problem.
However, I must insist that the presence of two wing forwards pushing at the back of a Union scrum does make for a tighter binding in the scrum, and a steadier one, when any push forward is attempted. In days past when scrums were scrums in League, all of the six individuals did have a particular task to perform when all got down to form the pack. As they still do in Union today. But the laxity today allowed by referees of both codes when the scrum half is placing the ball, supposedly between the two sets of forwards, is almost comical.
As an ex second row in both codes of rugby can I urge the legislators of both codes to be very careful what you do to the scrums in the near future. The scrum should be a significant part of both rugby codes, a competitive aspect of both games for two different sets of forwards. Undermine the value and importance of a scrum in League and Union and we will soon be watching or playing a version of non-