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  • Crouch, Touch, Set! Will it work?

    A number of people have been asking me over twitter, on email & in club houses about the new Experimental Law Variations (ELV's) regarding the scrum. The main question I get though is what are referees going to do to stop it being a blight on our great game.

    My first response back is normally, why is it the referee's responsibility? Surely it's a coaching issue?

    Another comment is about the extra long pauses in the cadence, well it seems to me that some coaches have not been paying full attention. The long pause has all but disappeared this season, but apparently the collapsing scrums are still the refs fault. How?

    The Ref doesn't drive in at angles, the ref doesn't pull a scrum down with bad binding and the ref doesn't try to drive upwards. All the ref does is try to penalise who he believed was the first offender. Surely the fact that these offences happen is a coaching issue? I'm certain there are times when refs may not help the situation, but trying to say they are the primary cause is a bit far fetched.

    Every coach and front row player is happy to point out all the faults and bad practices of the other team, but less inclined to look at their own teams issues so critically.

    Will the Crouch, Touch, Set help? Possibly. But it still has the biggest problem present, which is the hit.

    Most collapses happen on the engage. If we remove the hit and form the scrum, bind up and stabalise the scrum, the chances of a successful outcome will no doubt improve. The shove can come on when the scrum begins (9 throws the ball in, and the drive is straight).

    Maybe a law lab can try it at some point? But the removal of the verbal pause is a welcome change for most referees.

    The principle applies with the scrum feed. Why don't all the coaches have a gentlemen's agreement to actually coach their scrum halves to put the ball in properly? Then we can move away from the ref trying to decide what is marginal and what is too much, and we can go back to the game being a proper contest.

    It's not all the refs problem. But we are the ones left to deal with it in public.
    Comments 107 Comments
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      Three stage scrum engagement was trialled in the New Zealand's National Provincial Championship (then called the "Air New Zealand Cup") in 2008. This changed the existing “Crouch”-“Touch”-“Pause”-“Engage” sequence by eliminating the verbal Pause”.

      The number of collapsed scrums per match was lower in 2007 (under C-T-P-E) and 2008 (under C-T-E) than high levels observed in 2005 and 2006, but the number remained higher than had been the case in 2000 through 2004.

      There was also a small decrease (8.1%) in the number of reset scrums per match following the introduction of the C-T-P-E sequence in 2007 when compared with the number per match from 2000 to 2006. There was a further 13% decrease in scrum resets per match in 2008.

      Based on that, I certainly don't think that "Crouch" - "Touch" - "Set" will make things worse.

      I'm not sure if I am suffering from poor memory or seeing the past through rose-coloured glasses, but I seem to recall that collapsed scrums were very rare pre-1996 (its is certainly so when I played the game in the 1980's), and they were almost always penalised.
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian_Cook View Post
      Based on that, I certainly don't think that "Crouch" - "Touch" - "Set" will make things worse.
      I agree - I don't think it will make things worse. But I don't think it will things better, either.

      Quote Originally Posted by Ian_Cook View Post
      I'm not sure if I am suffering from poor memory or seeing the past through rose-coloured glasses, but I seem to recall that collapsed scrums were very rare pre-1996 (its is certainly so when I played the game in the 1980's), and they were almost always penalised.
      I remember things the same way. Even looking back at old games on TV, the scrums were very different then.
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      Yep I agree with you both.

      If you look at the old games they come together quickly, ball goes out and game gets going, the whole process takes about 15 seconds as opposed to minutes now.
    1. Toby Warren's Avatar
      Toby Warren -
      Won't make it worse (but at my level down in the weeds there isn't a major issue wiht +/- 1 collapse / reset a game.
    1. didds's Avatar
      didds -
      "IRB Rugby Committee Chairman and former New Zealand captain Graham Mourie said: “Most people accept the scrum is currently a problematic area of the Game, accounting for roughly 17 per cent of match time in elite Rugby and with more than 50 per cent of scrums resulting in collapses or resets.” "

      Ah - so they've identified that the problem exists in a very small % of the game as a global whole, buit have changed the entire world's approach to it because <1% want to mess bout?

      Not that I have any issues with these change per se, but it is a clear message that 99.9% of the world's players' environment is driven by the 0.1% (statistics a total guess ;-) that want to play silly buggers.

      I don't think it will make the slightest difference at grass roots.

      didds

      didds
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      Quote Originally Posted by didds View Post
      "IRB Rugby Committee Chairman and former New Zealand captain Graham Mourie said: “Most people accept the scrum is currently a problematic area of the Game, accounting for roughly 17 per cent of match time in elite Rugby and with more than 50 per cent of scrums resulting in collapses or resets.” "

      Ah - so they've identified that the problem exists in a very small % of the game as a global whole, buit have changed the entire world's approach to it because <1% want to mess bout?

      Not that I have any issues with these change per se, but it is a clear message that 99.9% of the world's players' environment is driven by the 0.1% (statistics a total guess ;-) that want to play silly buggers.

      I don't think it will make the slightest difference at grass roots.

      didds

      didds
      So they are trying to find a solution that doesn't affect the 99.9% but fixes the 0.1%. Isn't that a good thing? Would we not rather have this than a solution that buggers up the 99.9% to fix a problem at the 0.1% level?
    1. didds's Avatar
      didds -
      Indeed Ian - you are spot on there :-)

      But it shows that 99.9% of rugby doesn't have a problem - so shouldn't the question be why does the 0.1% have an issue? And find why they can;t make work what 99.9% does on the whole?

      Of course this forum oft debates the answer on the whole wrt scrum engagement.

      didds
    1. Simon Thomas's Avatar
      Simon Thomas -
      Robbie - well said.

      Totally agree with you that it is down to players and coaches, not the referees !

      To give RFU their due two scrum initiatives have been successful in the English Community Game.

      Tower of Power coaching schools and Prop Idol to bring through young props.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      The top level game is so competitive and with significant cash penalties for failure that coaches and players will always seek to gain whatever advantage they can.

      Whilst referees are seen as the bad boys in this issue then they have no incentive to change, indeed they have an incentive to pile the blame on the refs, or the lawmakers, or both - but never to accept any themselves.

      If we want the problem to be solved (and first we may have to work out who "we" are) then we need an orchestrated campaign to make sure the real reasons are identified and ruthlessly publicised. But who listens to refs any way? So someone else has to say it. The tv pundits would be capable of saying it, and would be listened to by the public at large - but only our very own BCM666 seems to be taking a stand, and frankly the bad news is that many of his co-workers are just getting cheap shots in and denigrating his stance asna bee in his bonnet. Shame on them, and I hope that they will realise that they are part of the problem.


      But they probably won't.
    1. Dickie E's Avatar
      Dickie E -
      Quote Originally Posted by Simon Thomas View Post

      Prop Idol to bring through young props.
      That's what that was ...

      Attachment 2142
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      I really don't know why the iRB needs to tinker with engagement sequences and other assorted peripheral issues. There are existing Laws that are sufficient for the task

      I would like to propose MY three-step sequence as a simple and straightforward solution to all the current scrum problems besetting the game at the elite level.


      STEP ONE
      Enforce Law 20.3: Binding in the scrum, with particular attention to...

      (c) Binding by loose head props. A loose head prop must bind on the opposing tight head prop by placing the left arm inside the right arm of the tight head and gripping the tight head prop’s jersey on the back or side. The loose head prop must not grip the chest, arm, sleeve or collar of the opposition tight head prop. The loose head prop must not exert any downward pressure.
      Sanction: Penalty kick

      (d) Binding by tight head props. A tight head prop must bind on the opposing loose head prop by placing the right arm outside the left upper arm of the opposing loose head prop. The tight head prop must grip the loose head prop’s jersey with the right hand only on the back or side. The tight head prop must not grip the chest, arm, sleeve or collar of the opposition loose head prop. The tight head prop must not exert any downward pressure.
      Sanction: Penalty kick

      Referee Notes: A prop who binds or attempts to bin on an opponent's arm, sleeve or collar should be immediately penalised!


      STEP TWO

      Enforce Law 20.1 (j)

      (j) Stationary & Parallel. Until the ball leaves the scrum half’s hands, the scrum must be stationary and the middle line must be parallel to the goal lines. A team must not shove the scrum away from the mark before the ball is thrown in.
      Sanction: Free Kick

      Referee notes: Remain between the scrum and the scrum-half, and ensure that the scrum remains on the mark, and square. If it moves off the mark, bring it back onto the mark or reset the scrum on the mark. When the scrum is square and stationary, step away and allow the scrum-half to put the ball in.


      STEP THREE

      Enforce Law 20.7 (d)

      (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 prop’s shoulders.
      Sanction: Free Kick

      Referee Notes: Rigidly enforce this one, no deviation/zero tolerance.

      If ALL elite referees followed this sequence, the elite props, hookers, coaches and managers would pretty quickly realise that they were no longer going to be allowed to.....

      1. Bind on the opponent's arm, sleeve or chest.
      2. push the scrum off the mark before the ball is thrown in
      3. throw the ball in squint

      "Winning the hit" will gain no advantage because the hit will have its steam taken out of it by the referee delaying proceedings until he is happy that BOTH scrums are complying with Law.

      If the iRB want to tinker, there is one thing they could do to the scrum Laws which would be of benefit to everyone.... remove the following wording from Law 20.5

      No Delay. As soon as the front rows have come together, the scrum half must throw in the ball without delay.
    1. Simon Thomas's Avatar
      Simon Thomas -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dickie E View Post
      That's what that was ...

      Attachment 2142
      Hardly Dickie !

      Prop Idol was launched in October 2006 by RFU Coach Development Officer Gavin Williams in Hampshire (Coach to Tottonians and England Women A XV).

      Supported by Jason Leonard it has become well established and produced a new generation of FR at youth and now senior levels, and has recently rolled out elsewhere in England.
    1. bcm666's Avatar
      bcm666 -
      I presume the title is a rhetorical question.
    1. Lee Lifeson-Peart's Avatar
      Lee Lifeson-Peart -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian_Cook View Post
      I would like to propose MY three-step sequence as a simple and straightforward solution to all the current scrum problems besetting the game at the elite level.

      "Winning the hit" will gain no advantage because the hit will have its steam taken out of it by the referee delaying proceedings until he is happy that BOTH scrums are complying with Law.
      I agree.

      Recent Warratahs v Hurricanes game (BL referee) - scrum formed as per usual. Ball still in SH hands. 'Canes then pushed Warratahs back more than a metre before it collapsed. Peep - PK to 'canes. Robinson, Warratahs LH, goes to Bryce and over the mic BL says "you went back more than a metre - you've got to take the hit".

      Robinson shrugs and Barrett kicks 3 pts.

      I think I mentioned in another post I thought BL was ok in that game - I would like to retract that statement.
    1. Waspsfan's Avatar
      Waspsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dickie E View Post
      That's what that was ...

      Attachment 2142
      That was Britain's Got Talent not Pop idol anyway. Honestly......
    1. Cave Dweller's Avatar
      Cave Dweller -
      How players or sides cheat in the front row

      Thumb in the shorts: opposition player reaches over the top and then puts their thumb in the shorts. They then pull the prop outwards.

      Bind on the shorts: instead of binding on the back or the side of the shirt, the prop will bind on the shorts with a straight arm. This gives a another piston from which to shove.

      Head on the hooker’s knee: the opposition hooker places their head on the other hooker’s striking knee making it difficult to strike the ball.

      Engagement miss hits: just before the engagement, the opposing prop hits the opposition shoulder with their arm to change the angle of impact. This reduces the effectiveness of the initial impact

      Boring in: this is where a prop turns in on the prop or hooker next to them. Often it is where the loose-head and the hooker target the opposition tight-head. They will start by making a very small space for the tight-head’s head to engage on impact and then drive in. The aim is to destabilise the scrum and thus reduce the effectiveness of the shove.

      Dropping the scrum under pressure: a very dangerous tactic whereby the opposition front row fold forward to bring the other front row down with them.

      Popping up under pressure: if a hooker or prop feels they are at a disadvantage on impact then they may well “pop” upwards and out of the scrum. They might even “pop” up just before impact as well.

      Slipping the binding: it is remarkable difficult to work out who is binding on who in the front row when looked at from the referee’s point of view. Some unscrupulous props and/or hookers may slip their inside binding and punch or gouge their opposite number.

      Stamping on toes: if a front row has some ascendancy on the initial engagement, then they may stamp on the toes of the other players. Hookers are often targets for this type of treatment

      Have anyone who got proposals ever gone down in a scrum and test out those bindings. The players of today get forced to bind in a uncomfortable positions which places them in greater danger.
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Thank you for such a comprehensive list showing that (a) front rows cheat (what a revelation!), and (b) that this can be dangerous.

      I think it admirably underlines my argument that referees have safety related issues to watch for at the scrums. Indeed there are at least 3 cases on record where a player has suffered a broken neck and the referee has been held liable for allowing illegal practices. Is it any wonder that under the current rules of engagement, the humble straight feed is so far down the referee's list of priorities?

      Quote Originally Posted by Cave Dweller View Post
      Have anyone who got proposals ever gone down in a scrum and test out those bindings. The players of today get forced to bind in a uncomfortable positions which places them in greater danger.
      What do you recommend, and how does it differ from what is in the laws?
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      Is it any wonder that under the current rules of engagement, the humble straight feed is so far down the referee's list of priorities?
      Unless one takes the view that square and steady before a straight feed will solve a lot of issues.
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cave Dweller View Post
      How players or sides cheat in the front row
      Well! I am shocked. I had no idea that players cheated like this. I always thought they were just incompetent
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Davet View Post
      Unless one takes the view that square and steady before a straight feed will solve a lot of issues.
      Which has been my argument for a long time.
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