PDA

View Full Version : Early engage



William Quibell
12-04-07, 08:04
Hi there

Just started as a new referee after many years playing the game. I've only refereed two games to date.

I have a question. When front rows continually engage early, including after repeated warnings, whom do you penalise and award a free kick to when it appears both front rows are engaging early and you cannot work out which has taken the initial early forward movement?

Kind regards

Will.

Greg Collins
12-04-07, 09:04
I have a question. When front rows continually engage early, including after repeated warnings, whom do you penalise and award a free kick to when it appears both front rows are engaging early and you cannot work out which has taken the initial early forward movement?

Welcome Will, I only have a little more experience than you having done five games so my tuppence worth would be down in the bowels of the game where we referee don't let it get to the point of repeated warnings. I use Ask Tell Penalise to manage this, backchat, repeat offences, etc,. I spent a good bit of time watch how the good refs do it, picked the brains of a Level 5 ref over this after my first game, read what's on this forum and this is what I do...

a) make it VERY clear in your pre-match that they are not to engage until you give the word and get them to agree to this explicitly "Do I have your agreement lads?", "Yes, Sir!" This is your ASK:)
b) your first scrum is critical - get this one right and life will be a lot easier "I want perfect scrums all afternoon gentlemen" make the mark, get them set an arms length apart, square on, make sure they are all there and you have a ball before you start.
c) Slow the engagement process down. Say crouch--touch--pause--engage slowly (more slowly than you think you should!), clearly, with a pause between each, checking at each pause that your happy with the way the scrum is setting. Don't adapt your calls to match their behaviour, don't let them rush you, you are doing this way for the safety of the 16 players in the scrum.
d) if they start moving before 'engage' call (or even touching before your touch call) the next thing they should hear is your whistle - remind them of what was agreed before the game and reset the scrum from the top. This is your TELL:(
e.i) If they do it right "Thanks Guys, good scrum" as you depart or at the next line out or scrum
e.ii) If they don't do it right ping 'em. "Early engagement, Free kick Red Ball, back 10 please lads" This is your PENALISE:mad: If you catch it early in the match it is generally easier to see who the first offender is.

Above all (and this ain't easy) be confident in the way you manage scrums and in all your other decision making - I can almost guarantee you know the laws better than them, you're the sole judge of fact so 'in law' you can never be wrong, if the soccer players on the team want to argue that they will find the free kick can get upgraded to a penalty pretty quickly.

Dixie
12-04-07, 10:04
And if you think they're both at it, then neither side can object if you ping 'em. If you genuinely can't tell which of them is hitting first, they're probably both early so penalise the side opposite your whistle hand. This enables you to get your FK signal in quick, while your whistle is still in your mouth. As good a rationale as any!;)

FlipFlop
12-04-07, 11:04
Firstly you have to understand why the scrums want to get in early. The team that gets the hit first is invariably incharge of that scrum. So by going slightly early, they get a big advantage (they don't have to work as hard to hold their scrum, more likely to disrupt opponents scrum). Also they are trying to predict you, and take control of the scrum away from you. If you spend all that time worry about getting the engagement right, have you checked the binding? Feeding? Boring in? etc. So you have to stop it. In the first instant, reset the scrum, and tell both sides to "WAIT for MY engagement call". If it still happens then......

The best technique I have is to SLOW it all down, and vary the length of the pause between pause and engage (I tell them this will vary before the game). This gets them listening, not predicting. Once you have them listening, you can speed it up if you need/want to. With the new engagement procedure, make sure that they are crouched after you say crouch, touch AFTER you say touch (get them to touch again if necessary) and have dropped their arms before you say pause. A good way to slow it down without it seeming to you it takes a long time is to have a checklist of things to look for at certain points. Crouch - are they balanced, square and level? Touch - Are the front row's spines parallel and straight? Pause - Are they moving? Hookers bound properly? Engage - check bindings. Seems like a lot to look at, but it can be done quite quickly, but slows it all down perfectly.

If they want to screw you around, you can always hold them a long time in the pause - it hurts them. Wait until one side stands up, or goes without you even saying engage, and then starts to complain of the wait. Then tell both sides, if they want to mess you around, you can mess them around, so lets all wait for the engage please gentlemen. Find that I've only used this once or twice and all for Vets games, and no problems for the rest of those games with early engagement.

And if it happens to often - award PK not FK, for deliberate infringement of the laws of the game. If both sides are going early, and you PK it, don't give the attacking team an easy three points though.

Anyway that's my 2p worth. SLOW SLOW SLOW at scrum time, they'll hate you for it, but the scrums will go better.

SimonSmith
12-04-07, 13:04
First time it happens, wait until the next scrum.
Before they get going, just mention to the front rows that "guys, you went early. On my voice, please. Not sooner"
Then the next time someone goes early, penalize them. It may seem like they're going at the same time, but one of them will be initiating it.

Best avoidance is, as mentioned above, to address it pre match. Lay out your expectations there.

ANd I disagree slightly with the "get agreement" piece. When then there were a myriad of ways of getting scrums set, I did seek agreement because I was well aware that my seqauence could be different from the guy the week before.
Now, the opposite is true - the engage sequence is mandated by law. And honestly, I don't care of they agree with it. It's the law. So I tell them how it's going to be and what the repercussions are for non compliance. Their agreement at this point isn't a factor; after all, if they disagree, what are you going to do about it?
(Add: I know this sounds like I'm a hardass at the FR briefing, but I'm not. It all gets laid out reasonably with a smile)

Robert Burns
12-04-07, 13:04
The other way of telling is by putting one finger lightly on the shoulder of each of the props nearest you. If one goes early you'll feel it, ping.

If they do it to many times change the free kick to a penalty for persistant infringement.

Greg Collins
12-04-07, 13:04
ANd I disagree slightly with the "get agreement" piece. When then there were a myriad of ways of getting scrums set, I did seek agreement because I was well aware that my seqauence could be different from the guy the week before.
Now, the opposite is true - the engage sequence is mandated by law. And honestly, I don't care of they agree with it. It's the law. So I tell them how it's going to be and what the repercussions are for non compliance. Their agreement at this point isn't a factor; after all, if they disagree, what are you going to do about it?
(Add: I know this sounds like I'm a hardass at the FR briefing, but I'm not. It all gets laid out reasonably with a smile)


Fair point Simon, must confess I hadn't fully thought through the consequences of a prop retorting along the lines of "stuff you Sir, we don't agree and we'll engage when we feel like it!";) - will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. But if they demonstrate their disagreement through their actions after kick off then I have a whole range of sanctions I can apply....

Seriously for me it is not so much a case of whether or not they agree with the Law but rather getting certain key players active in certain key flash points to agree explicitly that they are going to let me manage those situations. I feel it gives me the mental upper hand, and at my level of inexperience I need all the help I can get, if/when things go wrong to be able to refer back to the pre-match talk.

You raise another interesting point that of pre match talk demeanour and tone. I go for what I hope comes across as slightly stern and a bit forbidding esp. with U19 and below, and then lighten up as the game goes on. (The late great John Blake ex-Bristol was once my head teacher and that worked for him, I also find 6' 2", no beer gut, and a number one buzz cut helps - as it did when I played) Others will do it differently. Has your style changed/evolved over time? Do you adapt it for particular matches?

Greg Collins
12-04-07, 13:04
A good way to slow it down without it seeming to you it takes a long time is to have a checklist of things to look for at certain points. Crouch - are they balanced, square and level? Touch - Are the front row's spines parallel and straight? Pause - Are they moving? Hookers bound properly? Engage - check bindings. Seems like a lot to look at, but it can be done quite quickly, but slows it all down perfectly.

FLipFlop that, for me, is excellent advice and I shall use it.

Jacko
12-04-07, 14:04
b) your first scrum is critical - get this one right and life will be a lot easier "I want perfect scrums all afternoon gentlemen" make the mark, get them set an arms length apart, square on, make sure they are all there and you have a ball before you start.


That your first scrum is critical is very true. I would however advise against a comment such as "I want perfect scrums all afternoon gentlemen". It gives off the impression that if they don't behave, you won't know what to do. Hiding our lack of knowledge is crucial...!

SimonSmith
12-04-07, 14:04
Seriously for me it is not so much a case of whether or not they agree with the Law but rather getting certain key players active in certain key flash points to agree explicitly that they are going to let me manage those situations. I feel it gives me the mental upper hand, and at my level of inexperience I need all the help I can get, if/when things go wrong to be able to refer back to the pre-match talk.

You raise another interesting point that of pre match talk demeanour and tone. I go for what I hope comes across as slightly stern and a bit forbidding esp. with U19 and below, and then lighten up as the game goes on. (The late great John Blake ex-Bristol was once my head teacher and that worked for him, I also find 6' 2", no beer gut, and a number one buzz cut helps - as it did when I played) Others will do it differently. Has your style changed/evolved over time? Do you adapt it for particular matches?

I think you raise some good questions here.
My principal objection to what you said was the explicit nature of the question. I get the "we're on the same page" piece by injecting the odd "OK" as we go along and look for the slight nods of the head...First scrum, before we start I just tell the front rows to remember what we discussed.

Has my style changed? Oh god I hope so!! I'm more confident in what I'm saying and how I perform on the pitch; that then translates at the pre match as confidently relaxed, but in control.

Do I adapt for matches? yes, to an extent. The wording doesn't actually vary that much at all. Delivery does. With lower levels/less experienced teams, I do check more for understanding than with the higher levels. The "messaging" that I'm putting forward in my delivery tends to try to reflect my management style. In control, but not autocratic. What is important that the players and captains get a read on how I approach things - and what I need/expect from them.

That make sense?

William Quibell
12-04-07, 17:04
Cheers fellas. It's incredible the amount you can pick up/learn from these threads. Thank you all ever so much for your help.

Will.

FlipFlop
12-04-07, 18:04
ANd I disagree slightly with the "get agreement" piece. When then there were a myriad of ways of getting scrums set, I did seek agreement because I was well aware that my seqauence could be different from the guy the week before.
Now, the opposite is true - the engage sequence is mandated by law. And honestly, I don't care of they agree with it. It's the law. So I tell them how it's going to be and what the repercussions are for non compliance. Their agreement at this point isn't a factor; after all, if they disagree, what are you going to do about it?


Personally I think that getting their agreement is key. But not as in asking - do you all agree. More this is how it's going to be today, do you understand? Them saying yes is the agreement I'm after. If they say no, and insist on disagreeing, I'll inform the skipper that the player not agreeing won't be playing in the front row today - reason: safety of the others in the front row who have agreed to comply. (yes I know, it might not be a safety issue, but they can't argue safety!). Only time I've had any form of disagreement the conversation went something along the lines of: Prop "do we have to use the new rules or can we use the old ones?" Me: "Yes we have to use the new Laws, they are non-negotiable" Prop: "okay".

Don't like mentioning the repercussions for non-compliance (in any area of my pre-match brief), as these are in the law book, and they should know them (even though they won't); is too negative for a briefing - prefer to concentrate on what I WANT them to do, not what I'll do if they don't; and can build a rod for myself if I want to change these (slightly different circumstances, presistent, intent etc.) and get a prop saying, but you said......

Greg Collins
12-04-07, 19:04
Cheers fellas. It's incredible the amount you can pick up/learn from these threads. Thank you all ever so much for your help.

Will.

As a newbie I've spent many, many hours in here reading the threads and learning lots, moreso than the RFU site. Some of what I glean I actually sometimes remember once I've got my boots on....

Society meetings can be a good source of advice too but when you start off it can be difficult to know who is who, what level they are, whose approach can be adapted to suit yours. Ironically the people whose reffing I admired from the touch line last season are the ones who don't seem to come to society meetings that often!

Greg Collins
12-04-07, 19:04
Hiding our lack of knowledge is crucial...!

Do you mean the No. 1's, the polished boots and the pressed shorts don't fool them? Darn it!

Greg Collins
12-04-07, 19:04
That make sense?

For sure and it contains lots of useful advice

SimonSmith
12-04-07, 21:04
Personally I think that getting their agreement is key. But not as in asking - do you all agree. More this is how it's going to be today, do you understand? ......

We may be agreeing but just using terminology differently. My use of the casual "OK" is to seek understanding, not agreement.



Them saying yes is the agreement I'm after. If they say no, and insist on disagreeing, I'll inform the skipper that the player not agreeing won't be playing in the front row today - reason: safety of the others in the front row who have agreed to comply. (yes I know, it might not be a safety issue, but they can't argue safety!). ......

And that's why I don't ask for agreement. I don't want that door open. If they don't understand, then I can explain again differently. If they don't agree, that's a way worse problem.



Don't like mentioning the repercussions for non-compliance (in any area of my pre-match brief), ......

Repercussions is announced as "if you don't do this guys I won't have many options" rather than specifics.

FlipFlop
12-04-07, 23:04
And that's why I don't ask for agreement. I don't want that door open. If they don't understand, then I can explain again differently. If they don't agree, that's a way worse problem.


I agree it's a worse problem, but easy to deal with. It's the clubs responsibility to train their front row. If they don't understand the engagement procedure, which is all my pre-match brief to the front rows is about, they haven't (in my view) been trained. Hence they aren't playing there. Situation resolved. Hence I don't see a can of worms, or a bad door that can be opened.

Okay I may repeat the engagement procedure, if they still don't understand, sorry but you're not playing in a contested front row. I'm not wasting my time trying to be the players coach, nor am I getting into a discussion on a simple engagement procedure. Agree or don't play there (harsh maybe, but if I wanted to be a coach...). That way I've got agreement that they have understood, and covered myself legally that they understand.

By getting them to say YES they are more likely to actually have listened - and yes I have had to repeat my pre-match brief once when a prop said "sorry, wasn't listening, what do you want me to agree to?". It turns the brief into a two-way communication, but as they can only say yes/no you are still in charge (and it's not a debate or discussion either). And opening up the communication channels is of great help (I believe) to you later on when the game starts.

And at the end of the day, all I'm getting is an agreement that they understand the engagement procedure. And all the front rows know that when asked they say YES.

Now if you have a long brief and talk about binding, and going straight, and blah blah they're not listening anymore blah blah blah then agreement to all of that is pointless and I'd agree with you.

Dickie E
12-04-07, 23:04
Given that 20.1(h) says that "This call [engage] is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready" what do you do if one of the front rows fails to engage after the call?

mkottke
13-04-07, 00:04
Given that 20.1(h) says that "This call [engage] is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready" what do you do if one of the front rows fails to engage after the call?

You call for the engagement, which is your decision and you have identified that both teams are ready. Remember, first thing on your mind in this situation is safety.
So the question to answer about this problem is the pack failing to engage because they are not ready or because they are playing mind games with you and the other team. At the next scrum give a quick chat with the hooker and mention that he needs to gather his props and get ready for the scrum. Once you say engage, they are ready - if not, then you will hear them complaining. If they are messing around, then their disadvantage and they are going to get tooled by the opposing team. If the nonengaging team starts falling, then ding them with a free kick.

-Mark

Deeps
13-04-07, 00:04
My solution to the early engagement problem is to nip it in the bud early. First, a concise brief before the game consisting of the 4 words used, an example of the tone and cadence I will use and a request not to anticipate the 'engage'. At the first scrum a reminder to remember the brief. On the first occasion of an early engagement, blow up and issue final warning not to engage early. Thereafter free kick on each occasion and, if not obvious who has offended, choose. I have not needed to go beyond this.

Dickie E
13-04-07, 03:04
have you had the situation where both teams engage early (ie before the call) but the scrum ends up perfectly formed? Do you blow it up or let it go & have a word next scrum?

Mike Whittaker
13-04-07, 08:04
have you had the situation where both teams engage early (ie before the call) but the scrum ends up perfectly formed? Do you blow it up or let it go & have a word next scrum?

Would suggest it depends on the game and time into match...

At highest level blow up and penalise, whatever the timing

At lowest level, let it go and then chat at next, particularly early in game.

Middle level... take your pick. Are the players generally cooperative and playing with good attitude?

Try not to be prescriptive about these things. Show that you can manage the people and the situation. Get the players to work with you and all your problems will be solved. That is the art of refereeing... ;)

FlipFlop
13-04-07, 11:04
Given that 20.1(h) says that "This call [engage] is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready" what do you do if one of the front rows fails to engage after the call?

The question here is then - do they take the hit? Or do they stumble backwards?

I might reset with a warning to take the hit. My view is that it's up to them if they want to engage or stand and wait, provided the scrum is safe and they absorb the hit. But this is unlikely if they don't engage.

But lets face it, this law is one of those that really should be rewritten. The call of engage isn't a command (crounch, touch, pause are though), but the teams react to it like it is.

As teams want to be the ones to control the hit, going early is better than late, unless trying to buy a penalty for the opposition shoving before the ball is in. If a team doesn't take the hit, the oppo have to normally take one or two steps to stabalise, and hence appear to be pushing as they step forward and the scrum moves with them. I realised this after 2 FKs in one game recently for pushing early, but after a warning and a PK for not taking the hit, scrum worked.

Davet
13-04-07, 12:04
I generally make a point of telling the FRs that if they are not ready at any point in the sequence then let me know, we can always stand up and start again rather than get someone hurt. I then add that they shouldn't wait until we're on the point of engage - they have the whole sequence to get settled, so if they just pull out of the engage then thats not on.

didds
13-04-07, 12:04
The other way of telling is by putting one finger lightly on the shoulder of each of the props nearest you. If one goes early you'll feel it, ping.

If they do it to many times change the free kick to a penalty for persistant infringement.

what happens whenb the early hit is ibnstigated on the opposite side?
how does the s/h put the ball in if you need to stand on the putting in side?

didds

SimonSmith
13-04-07, 12:04
Crouch, touch, pause - if I don't hear an issue at any of those stages, then I expect them to be ready to engage. It's a reasonable assumption that if they don't, then someone somewhere is dicking about.

I haven't actually had this problem at all. Early engage, yes; not a faulre to engage.

tim White
13-04-07, 14:04
In my brief I state 'if you crouch after my request to crouch that tells me you are ready, if you are not ready MAKE SURE I KNOW'. Any standing up after the crouch is then straight FK.

ExHookah
13-04-07, 14:04
Given that 20.1(h) says that "This call [engage] is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready" what do you do if one of the front rows fails to engage after the call?

When I brief the front rows I tell them that that if they are not ready, slip a binding, whatever, then tell me at or before the Pause. I suggest they make plenty of noise so I know they have a problem, but also point out that they make eye contact with they opposite number. Tends to help avoid them standing up and getting hit in the ribcage.

peperami
13-04-07, 15:04
And if you think they're both at it, then neither side can object if you ping 'em. If you genuinely can't tell which of them is hitting first, they're probably both early so penalise the side opposite your whistle hand. This enables you to get your FK signal in quick, while your whistle is still in your mouth. As good a rationale as any!;)

I love that idea, give the free kick to the non whistle side. I shall remember that

didds
14-04-07, 11:04
could you guys therefore always hold your whistle in the hand opposite wherever I may be scrummaging ;-)

didds

Gareth-Lee Smith
14-04-07, 13:04
If they want to screw you around, you can always hold them a long time in the pause - it hurts them. Wait until one side stands up, or goes without you even saying engage, and then starts to complain of the wait. Then tell both sides, if they want to mess you around, you can mess them around, so lets all wait for the engage please gentlemen.

I don't like this idea at all. Hurting them is not part of our brief, we're meant to be keeping them SAFE. I know you mean hurt in the weakest term of the word but still, it could lead to problems.

The rest of your advice is excellent, however.

tim White
15-04-07, 19:04
After a succession of 'both together' early engagements I have been known to issue the warning 'no more freebies chaps, free kicks or penalties from now on'. From then on its at least a free kick- given to the team putting the ball in if I can't see an obvious culprit. Its not in the laws, but it worked.

jboulet4648
15-04-07, 21:04
At my pre match briefing, I make sure I find out who is the hooker, and I put responsibility for safety on him. My cadence is Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage. It will be slow and deliberate. At any point during Crouch, Touch, or Pause, you do not feel safe, let me know, I will bring it up.....

I do Pause after pause, that way neither can jump or anticipate the engage. If I find a team trying to time it, or both start to jump the engage, I tell them I am slowing it down even further, and to hold and wait for the engage.

I had issues when I did not have a slow and deliberate cadence, with early engaging, and messy scrums, so just like in a match with managing players, slow it down to bring it under your control. This allows you to see who jumps early, and easy to free kick.

Greg Collins
16-04-07, 00:04
I do Pause after pause, that way neither can jump or anticipate the engage. If I find a team trying to time it, or both start to jump the engage, I tell them I am slowing it down even further, and to hold and wait for the engage.

As the season has wound on and down I've noticed a tendency for some of those I look up to at level 6 or 5 to introduce a new word to the English language, "pausengage" or, in some cases, "pause'n'engage" with no actual pause at all. But the scrums have been set well by well drilled packs so it works for them.

Down at my level I'm using the pause to check things and this takes me a little while to do. I'm not saying the better refs aren't checking but rather I think their experience means they think faster and have better 'instincts' for when things are going wrong.

Will
16-04-07, 03:04
We have been called to quite a few meetings re this....the advise is to vary the time you pause after you say "Pause".....if I see the front rows leaning forward after I call PAUSE, I actually don't say anything at all, the teams will lock horns and I blow the whistle and ask them to come up and that "we will do this on my call"...it works well, I tell them in the pre match brief, and set the groundwork in the early scrums, must say the biggest issue I have had so far is loose binding in the under 19s...it will be an interesting contrast when the games begin with the bigger boys!

Mike Whittaker
16-04-07, 03:04
As the season over here grinds towards its close Will, I think we can say that teams at pretty well all levels have now got used to the procedure and regardless of what they think about it have got used to it. I am not convinced that the scrums are actually any safer than they were before (if done correctly) but at least the world can see that Rugby is focusing on safety and working to make it as safe as possible.

As long as we can retain the scrum with the push and competitive strike then we have a chance of keeping this great game as something worth preserving.

Pablo
16-04-07, 10:04
To address Greg's point about the length of the pause, I often find myself asked by front rows how long my pause will be. I tell them that it's not fixed and I will use the time to check the FRs, and not give the engage command till I think they're ready to scrummage safely. Further, I tell them that if the engagements are going well, the pause will get shorter, and if we're having problems, the pause will get longer and they therefore should listen for the voice and not try to second-guess the timing. Other than obvious teething problems the first couple of weeks after the new law was introduced, I've had absolutely no engagement problems from the teams I've refereed, so this approach works for me. Try it and see if it works for you.

Greg Collins
16-04-07, 19:04
Try it and see if it works for you.

I shall, next season. All I have is a page of tba's for the rest of this month, my own fault, of course, for starting so late in the season.

Still the appointments sec. knows and I might get lucky and pick up something at some forthcoming junior seven's tournaments.

Greg Collins
22-04-07, 11:04
To address Greg's point about the length of the pause.... Try it and see if it works for you.

Pablo thanks for this tip, tried it yesterday for Brighton U15 vs Bedford U15 and it worked a treat