Coaches from the RBS 6 Nations participating Unions have thrown their support behind the IRB’s commitment to address scrum issues at the elite level of the game.
Currently 60% of all scrums collapse in Tier 1 internationals and 40% of scrums are required to be reset, while the average time taken to complete a scrum has risen from 41 seconds to 53.
Despite a slight decrease in the number of collapses and resets since the new engagement sequence was introduced last year, the IRB remains determined to tackle the issues and ensure that this critical facet of the Game is a spectacle and a contest.
Coaching representatives from Ireland, England, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales pledged to work with the IRB to deliver a stable scrum platform at a highly positive and productive forum in London on Tuesday evening.
In addition to expressing their support for the scrum engagement sequence, the coaches also gave their backing to the IRB’s policy of the strict application of scrum law, including ensuring straight put-ins.
The coaches also support the IRB policy which mandates that referees should crack down on illegal front row binding with a collective emphasis on ensuring that the tighthead prop binds on the body of the loosehead prop and not the arm, and the loosehead prop adopts the correct body position and binds on the body of the opposition tighthead.
This collaborative approach will be critical in assisting to address the problematic aspects of the scrum. Last year a similar approach agreed by all Tier 1 coaches led to a crackdown in key areas of law: offside at the breakdown, offside from kicks, illegal maul formation and strict application of the tackle law. This resulted in a return to attacking rugby.
IRB Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien said: “The meeting was extremely constructive and highly productive. All found it beneficial and it was encouraging to see universal agreement from the coaches about the need to continue to penalise the clear and the obvious in the five key areas of law.
“In particular, the need to address the scrum issues that are currently experienced at elite level.
“We are encouraged that teams recognise there is a collective responsibility to ensure that the high number of collapses and resets is reduced.
“The coaches expressed their full support for referees to employ a zero tolerance policy towards engagement offences and have given a commitment that their teams will endeavour to be compliant in producing a stable, steady scrum by binding correctly.
“The scrum is an integral facet of the game and by working together we can target the issues while ensuring that player welfare continues to be the most important consideration.”
A directive will be issued to all Unions reinforcing the message. The coaches’ forum has become a regular fixture ahead of the RBS 6 Nations, Tri Nations, June and November Tests.
The forum underscores the IRB’s commitment to an open and transparent process of collaboration and communication between the IRB and its member Unions in all areas of refereeing practice.