The International Rugby Board Council has announced the implementation of a global trial of the “crouch, bind, set” scrum engagement sequence, which is aimed at enhancing player welfare by reducing impact on engagement by up to 25 per cent in elite competition. Approval of the sequence on player welfare grounds, is coupled with a call for Game-wide commitment from law-makers, match officials, coaches and players to ensure a fair and positive attitude is applied to deal with scrum issues.
Implementation will begin at the start of the next season: All USA competitions commencing from/after August 15th, 2013.
In a revision of the 'crouch, touch, set' engagement sequence currently being trialed, props will be expected to bind using their outside arm after the referee has called "bind" in the sequence. Should this trial become incorporated into Law, the text for Law 20.1(g) and (i) would read:
20.1 Forming a Scrum
(g) The referee will call "crouch" and then "bind". The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop must bind. 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. A tight head prop must bind on the opposing loosehead prop by placing the right arm outside the left upper arm of the opposing loose head prop and gripping the loose head prop’s jersey with the right hand only on the back or side. The props must not grip the opponent’s chest, arm, sleeve or collar. Following a pause, the referee will then call "set" when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then engage. The “set” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready. The sanction for any infringement will be a free kick.
The IRB has produced a training video that covers the entire process and possible issues that may occur: http://www.irblaws.com/index.php?domain=16&page=1
The sequence should be easy to implement, however, there will be an adjustment period for both referees and players:
- Do not waste time at the scrum process by being pedantic - the new engagement sequence should reduce scrum time and scrum issues.
- If the scrum is unsteady/moving upon engage, the scrumhalf should wait until the scrum is stationary before feeding the ball. Referees may, but are NOT required to tell the scrumhalf when to feed the ball and the scrumhalf need not wait for the referee’s indication to feed the ball. Referees are requested to not necessarily penalize a “too quick feed” and rather manage it initially.
- Straight feeds are now required and referees should apply the LAW strictly.