“New” scrum law baffles scrumhalves

David van der Merwe talks about the new scrum laws, and how it has affected the scrumhalves.


The IRB changed the scrum laws from 1 August 2013 and a lot of talk has gone on since the implementation. Everyone and their brother focused on how it would affect the front rows.

Well it seems the front rows got the hang of it pretty quickly. They are even calling for scrums, in fact pleading for scrums, when penalties are given. Just ask Jannie du Plessis. the reason is that scrums are once again a true contest. It is back to ability and technique and longer just hinges on brute strength and the hit.

The guys that ae struggling with the new laws are the scrumhalves. The “new” law dictating a straight feed is something they just can’t seem to grasp. And in fact it is not a “new” law. It has always been part of the laws of rugby. It was just neglected by referees and players for so long it seems new. The problem is that most of today’s scrumhalves never played when it was still enforced.

A free kick or short arm is given when it happens. After a couple of these it turns into a penalty and then it will be deemed a repeated offence and a yellow card will follow. Ask Ruan Snyman who is the first scrumhalf to spend 10 minutes in the bin for not putting it in straight. Some say it is a ridiculous yellow card that was handed to him. I disagree.

If a team is warned for a repeated offence, the next guy committing it will be carded. I remember a hooker being carded for skewed lineout feeds. Why not scrumhalves? By putting the ball in skew you don’t give the opposition a chance to contest fairly. It is an offence and should be enforced as such. For the first couple of games we will see this happening and then the scrummies will learn to feed it straight.

One thing that it has brought along with it is the heel against the head. We have seen more of these in one weekend of rugby than in the last 5 years. A good thing I say. Referees must now just start to watch hookers as they lift their feet before the ball is fed. But in essence the scrum has become a contest again.


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