Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Phil Clarke looks at the problems surrounding the scrum
Last Updated: 29/06/17 11:32am
'Make your bed' is a book by William H. McRaven that I bought last week..
It's based on a speech that Admiral McRaven gave to some students at a University in Texas a few years ago and focuses on the lessons he learned from his Navy Seal training in the US.
He explains how making your bed properly every morning will have powerful consequences. Once you've made your bed you'll have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and encourage you to do another task.
By the end of the day one task will have turned into many and the standards that you set yourself when you folded the sheets and put the pillow in the right place will have carried through to the other things that you've done. Making your bed also reinforces that the little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you'll never be able to do the big things right either.
It's a principle that I believe we need to follow in rugby league. It's why I'm so interested in a proper play-the-ball and why I'm starting to get alarmed at the formation of scrums in games this season.
If you watched the game between Leeds and Castleford last week you might have spotted the referee helping both teams so that they got the correct number of players in the scrum. He actually held play up and advised them that they needed another player, even though that is not in the rules.
It happens in most games these days as every team has a different system for different areas on the fields. The players themselves can't remember whether they should be in the scrum or out in the 'back line' as it used to be called.
I received a text this week from a Super League coach who, like me, thinks that it's embarrassing for the sport. There is so much time lost and it look so messy when the game is held up whilst a team decide which six players to put into their scrum. It looks as though it is the first time that they've played the game.
Many of them are even unaware of the rules and still put six players into a scrum when they're defending and they have a man in the sin bin. The coach suggested to me that we should introduce a clock with a clearly defined time during which the scrum must be formed.
He feels as though this would speed up the game, encourage the players to be more aware of their positioning at scrums and make the thing look tidier when we are attempting to restart play. Alternatively, we could just apply the rules and tell the referee to penalise them if they don't have their scrum properly formed.
Referees seem reluctant to blow the whistle and penalise a team. It's almost as if they've been given a limited number of penalties that they can award and don't want to waste one on a scruffy scrum.
I'm not sure if Admiral McRaven has ever seen a game of rugby league but I'm guessing that his first observation would be that the players need to play-the-ball correctly and form a scrum in a manner befitting of a professional sport. If we can't get the little things right what chance do we have with the big stuff.