IRB referees ready for scrum trial debut
The International Rugby Board’s top referees gathered at the Fédération Française de Rugby’s (FFR) Centre National de Rugby in Marcoussis, near Paris, last week for a workshop to finalise consistent management of the new ‘crouch, bind, set’ scrum engagement sequence that will begin global trials this month.
Twenty-one referees, representing eight Unions, were joined by representatives of the IRB scrum working group, coaches, the media and the IRB’s match official selection committee for a series of preparation sessions ahead of The Rugby Championship and November Tests.
In a revision of the 'crouch, touch, set' engagement sequence currently being trialled, props will be expected to bind using their outside arm after the referee has called "bind". The front rows will maintain the bind until the referee calls "set". At that point, the two packs will engage.
The IRB Council approved the law trial in May, alongside a suite of five other aspects of law, on player welfare enhancement grounds as the revised sequence has the potential to reduce forces on engagement at the elite level by 25 per cent, therefore promoting long-term benefits.
Addressing the scrum collapse issues that have been prevalent recently in elite Rugby is not the driver of this change. However, it is possible that the new sequence, coupled with strict application of existing law by referees and universal positive attitude buy-in, could lead to a more stable platform and therefore fewer collapses and resets.
IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "The introduction of the law trial is just the tip of the iceberg. We are working in full partnership with our Unions to deliver a comprehensive programme of education to ensure that all are fully prepared for the start of the trial, including our top referees.”
"Fundamental to this process will be buy-in from all to ensure a positive approach to the scrum and to tackle the issues that are prevalent at the elite level of the Game. We anticipate an element of time for all to get comfortable with the new process, but if we can ensure a stable platform by working together, then the product will be better for all."
"The feedback that we have been getting from coaches and players around the world is that this is a positive change that enhances player welfare and scrum stability. The referee forum was incredibly positive and highly constructive and there is a commitment to ensure strict policing of the scrum feed."
The IRB’s comprehensive free-to-access online education resource aimed at introducing players, coaches and match officials at community and elite level on the implementation and management of the sequence can be found here.