A few weeks ago I went to a meeting with referee Wayne Barnes who explained the new rules to us and how they were going to crack down on not feeding the ball in straight in the scrums.
I was delighted that this was finally going to happen as I have been banging on and on about it since I joined Sky - 17 years ago!
For me it was taking the scrum back to what it should be - a scrum situation rather than a big hit situation.
All the signs were there that the scrums were going to now be square, stationary and then the scrum-half could put the ball in straight.
I asked Barnes if there will be zero tolerance regarding the crooked feed and he said absolutely.
Well, unfortunately what I have seen this season has not filled me with any hope; the ball is still going to the second rowers' feet and while referees are pinging occasionally, there is just no consistency.
The powers that be were 100% correct in bringing back these new laws, but unfortunately they are not policing it and letting players carry on like they used to do.
Quotes of the week
It is very frustrating as I feel this is stopping the new scrum laws from being really effective. The powers that be were 100% correct in bringing back these new laws, but unfortunately they are not policing it and letting players carry on like they used to do.
Scrum-halves have either lost the art or have been told by their coaches to slam the ball in crooked.
I know that this is a 12-month trial, but they really need to marshall this area properly and make sure that all the clubs are aware of what is going on.
They are missing the art of actually hooking and using the scrum as an absolute weapon.
A good quick hook from the hooker, straight to the No.8, can create incredible amounts of space and pace out wide. If I was playing now I would not put the ball in straight away, I would wait for my hooker to tap and then put it in.
If they allow the props to bind and then delay the ball going in - just a couple of seconds then that would depower the hit and force the front rows to get back to a bit more timing between the hooker and the scrum-half.
I want to see the art of scrummaging coming back to allow teams to really use the ball in various options - not just get the ball out.
They almost need to get the likes Jeff Probyns, John Olver the hooker from Northampton and Neil Hitchen - all these guys to go around and teach the modern front row what to do.
However, as long as the referee keeps on allowing the scrum-half to put the ball in crooked then they are never going to really learn.
It is an art and I hope it gets sorted as the scrum is an incredible part of our game and we need to keep it.
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Bob Heeley says...
Saw the Castre replacement 9 given yellow for persistant not straights. Well done the ref. However, it will take consistency of refereering to make players do the right thing. Keep it up, the game will be better for the change.
Posted 19:26 19th October 2013
Jim Mcdonald says...
Agree with Dewi. As an official I used to referee rugby (for about 10 yrs. - finished 25 years ago). If I didn't penalise crooked scrum feed, and if an SRU Assessor was present monitoring my game, I would be severely criticised. What is the point of scrummaging if the ball input is crooked? Scrums and the skill and art of hooking is one of the key parts of our game. In my day we didn't have red or yellow cards. In a game, following a series of crooked feeds and penalties, I had no option but to send a scrum half off for continuous infringement. Do we want our game to deteriorate into having farcical scrums like Rugby League??? Jim
Posted 17:33 9th October 2013
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