Why scrums cannot stand

2015-04-26 15:00

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Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin has hit out at a change in the application of rugby laws, which he believes is ruining the scrum as an attacking platform in rugby.

The Lions had one of the best scrums in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup last year, but this year other teams have caught up and De Bruin contends that a subtle shift in refereeing is spoiling the scrum.

“I am an attack coach and have always had a great interest in the many possibilities to set up tries off a scrum,” said De Bruin.

“The intention of the scrum is to have all 16 forwards concentrated in one place with defenders five metres back. This is the ideal situation to enable you to play exciting strike-move rugby.

“But the scrum has become so chaotic that it is impossible to play off.

“I hardly ever ask our technical guy to take shots of scrums from games for me to study to plan moves. I’d rather practise a penalty kick or a free kick from where the scrum was because that is the inevitable outcome,” he explained.

De Bruin believes the cause of the problem is a subtle shift by referees in the three-stage scrum engagement sequence, which was instituted last season to again allow a “hit”.

He says this has enabled taller and heavier front row forwards to hit down on smaller opponents and force penalties.

“It is killing rugby at the moment and it is quite sad that an intrinsic part of rugby is simply being removed.

“However, some teams like the way the rule is now being applied because the scrum enables them to force the penalty, kick to touch and then set up the maul, which has become everyone’s preferred method of attack. Then, if the maul collapses, which happens often, they get a chance to kick at the posts.

“We are starting to see games that consist of who’s going to concede the scrum penalty, who’s going to kick for touch or the posts and who’s going to get the three points. Teams play for the penalty – it’s all they do. And for a team like [the Lions] who absolutely want to raise the tempo and play exciting rugby, it’s very frustrating.” He said the law change last year had made it difficult for sides with smaller props to bind properly and get in a balanced shove.

“You can’t bind, hit and get your feet right. Bigger guys knock you off balance.

“Look at how we were able to scrum the Sharks when we could pre-bind and go low [in last year’s Currie Cup semifinal]. Now, with the hit, they’re back in the game. As an attack coach, we must find a way for the scrum to be over within 20 seconds, because people want to watch entertaining rugby,” he said.

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