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View Full Version : Straight or crooked?



OB..
16-04-06, 23:04
Scrum throw-in, that is.

Law 20.6 (d) "The scrum-half must throw-in the ball straight along the middle line, so that it first touches the ground immediately beyond the width of the nearer propís shoulders."

A while back the RFU issued a PowerPoint slide demonstrating their view of "straight": it showed the tip of the ball over the mid line. Apparently that is all that is required.

However even that is too stringent for today's so-called hookers, who seem almost to leave that job to the second rows. Why?

The usual argument I have met is that nobody really cares. Coaches are happy to win their own ball even at the cost of letting the opposition have theirs. So why the fuss about uncontested scrums? Because, so it goes, what matters is what happens after the ball is hooked. Again, why?

The scrum is supposedly a contest for the ball with an advantage to the side throwing in - but they do not have to have it all their own way: that is what penalties and free kicks are for.

Some referees say they feel like idiots if they penalise a crooked feed when the opposition made no effort to strike for the ball. They get accused of negative refereeing, not letting the players get on with the game.

So let's change the law slightly. There are 3 situations:
(1) straight. No problem.
(2) straight into the second row. Full penalty, because it is simply cheating. Even on the local park nobody makes that much of a misjudgement.
(3) between these two.
....(a) if the opposite hooker strikes for the ball, scrum throw-in to his team (if it happens again, FK to the original team.)
....(b) if he doesn't strike, why should he gain any benefit? Play on.

I think this would persuade hookers to strike on their opponents' ball, though not every time. It also seems fair. And it would make hookers really hook.

Of course you would then have to start enforcing the "foot up" law :D Ö. (good).

Deeps
17-04-06, 10:04
There are 3 situations:
(1) straight. No problem.
(2) straight into the second row. Full penalty, because it is simply cheating. Even on the local park nobody makes that much of a misjudgement.
(3) between these two.
....(a) if the opposite hooker strikes for the ball, scrum throw-in to his team (if it happens again, FK to the original team.)
....(b) if he doesn't strike, why should he gain any benefit? Play on.


(1) & (2) are the two extremes of the decision process and I have no difficulty here. For (3) I think you are asking too much of the referee who should not be that close. He has many things to look for already at the scrum, this may be a burden too far. In any case striking or not striking is only one tactical situation, why should that be the criteria as to whether a crooked feed is acceptable or not? If the tactic is for the hooker to lend his pushing power to push the opposition off the ball then he is still entitled to having the ball placed midway between the two opposing scrums. He may wish to delay his strike for some reason and you could arrive at a situation where the hooker has noticed the feed and has then decided to strike just to win the free kick.

I take the view that if the ball is required to be straight in the line out then it has to be equally straight on put in to the scrum. Both events restart the game after a stoppage and should be a fair contest for the ball in so far that one side has the privilege and therefore advantage of putting it in. If some part of the ball addresses the median line during part of its travel, provided it has been inserted correctly (pointed ends awthartships, O.K. parallel to the touchline), then that is acceptable. Any more than this is cheating and any opportunity to penalise pesky, mouthy, vertically challenged scrumhalves is O.K. by me.

OB..
17-04-06, 12:04
Deeps - if referees agreed with you (in their actions) I would be happy.

But they don't. As far as I can tell it is because both sides prefer it if they don't (much like boots on bodies). They are taking the easy way out, arguing that there are more important things to look out for (as you did).

I am simply looking for a way to persuade all parties back to the party line. Striking for the ball unexpectedly would be a sneaky way to gain an advantage, and so would appeal to the opposition. I am not convinced referees would find it as hard as you suggest, but some trials should sort that out. Perhaps the minor crooked feed could simply be a scrum turnover rather than a FK.

These days a hooker is simply a flanker who can throw.

I was amused when a substitute came on during a Rugby League international and the commentator said, "I don't know if he is going to play hooker or scrum half." Please don't let us go there.

didds
17-04-06, 13:04
I am a great admirer of OB who ALWAYS takes his viewpoints from basic principles and argues them well. As such I offer the following comment - not argument ;-) about his last words above in post #1

"I think this would persuade hookers to strike on their opponents' ball, though not every time. It also seems fair. And it would make hookers really hook."

the problem is (from the ref's perspective) is how do you know its "not every time". Consider the scenario with the very first scrum of the match. If the feed is a bit "wobbly" but the oppo hooker doesn;t strike what course of action do you take? Is the hooker one that never strikes (the irrelevancy argument), or did he not strike on THIS occasion becuase the ball was too squint to bother? Or what if he is a "striker" bit the tactica choice was to 8 man shove? How does the ref know whether a hooker is one that may strike sometimes at this juncture?

In other words how can the ref second guess his general intentions and therefore make the correct call?

As such it seems to me that the better course of action is blow the "wobbly" ones as not straight and leave a black and white scenario to referee. the onus is then on players - and us coaches - to then play with the laws as written rather than hope that the referee's crystal ball vision is in tune with us on any occassion. I ear that you as refs make a rod for your own back if you start introducing subjective grey areas...

Finally... there IS an advantage gained by squint ball other than oppo hooker not challenging - the ball gets to Number 8's feet/in the channel required far quicker and more easily - as such it actually DESKILLS the game.

Keep it straight and the game remains a skilfull one with genuine contests for the ball.

didds

ExHookah
17-04-06, 14:04
I used to strike on oppo ball on 90% of the scrums, but fewer and fewer hookers seem to do that these days.