From the start of next season there will be a global trial of the "crouch, bind, set" scrum engagement sequence, aimed at enhancing player welfare by reducing impact on engagement.
The International Rugby Board Council's approval of the sequence, on player welfare grounds, comes with a call for game-wide commitment from law-makers, match officials, coaches and players, to ensure a fair and positive attitude in dealing with scrum issues.
Implementation follows extensive evaluation of the sequence during the recent IRB Pacific Rugby Cup, which showed the potential for a more stable platform leading to fewer resets and more successful scrums.
Props will now be expected to crouch on the referee’s call, bind using their outside arm after the referee has called "bind". The front rows will maintain the bind until the referee calls "set". At that point, the two packs will engage.
The IRB will also instruct referees to ensure that the ball does not enter the tunnel unless the scrum is square and stationary and that a straight throw-in is strictly policed. The RFU will be providing a game-wide educational process, featuring coach and match official workshops, from July so that everyone is fully informed for the new season.
The five Law changes currently being trialled and the trial change to television match official protocols will be considered by IRB Council at its annual meeting in 2014. This new scrum engagement trial will be before Council at its interim meeting the same year. Any amendments approved will be in place a year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.
The Scrum Steering Group includes RFU Community Rugby Medical Director Dr Mike England; RFU Area Manager, Gavin Williams and Dr Keith Stokes, of the University of Bath research team, with technical input from England scrum expert Graham Rowntree.
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Please visit www.rfu.com for updates and videos of the new engagement sequence. For your advice, the implementation of this new scrum sequence will be from the first pre-season friendlies, warm-ups and training sessions. But, given the need for proper education, it does not include summer tours or sevens tournaments.