'Yes 9' makes scrum unfair
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
The new scrum call has not completely eradicated
resets, but there certainly seem to be far fewer. We still see some properly
strange/inept penalties based on binds and collapsing, but I think that will
always be the case given the subjective interpretation of the laws by different
The straight feed from the scrumhalf makes it a fairer contest and
keeps packs higher as hookers now have to actually hook, which allows the
opposition the chance to do the same - hence the previously seldom seen
tighthead making a reappearance.
It is without doubt a safer place for front
rows given the reduced hit and pre bind (my neck injury came from the packs not
engaging at the same time and my head smashing into the opposition thigh), so
all in all, I like the look of the new scrum.
My biggest concern is this “Yes 9” call
from the ref that signals to the scrumhalf that the ball must be put in.
from robbing the attacking side of the element of surprise, are we not meant to
be absolving the referee of some of the responsibilities around the scrum?
The new engagement process and straight
feed sees a return to the good old days when scrumming was about power,
strength and technique, but also timing. Hence the hooker tapping the
loosehead’s back when he was ready for the ball to come in. Part of the technique,
and something we practiced for hours using various calls, was to get the little
shove from all but the hooker, whose job is obviously to hook the ball back,
timed to happen just as the ball was fed into the scrum.
Now it is the ref who is calling the scrum
feed with this “Yes 9” call, and that is why we see the scrumhalf tapping the
hooker’s arm just before the scrum feed, so at least he knows when the ball is
coming in, and can strike for it.
But in making it the ref’s call as to when
the scrum is fed, there are two important ramifications.
One – the attacking
side loses the element of surprise as they no longer decide the timing of the
feed, and two – it gives the opposition an unfair advantage as they know
exactly when the ball is going to be fed into the scrum, and with 8 men who can
shove, as opposed to the other side’s 7, they will have more power.
It is a bit like telling the hooker where
and when to throw the ball into the lineout.
Teams earn the right to feed the scrum and
lineout, and while you want the opposition to be able to contest the ball,
there has to be some advantage in earning that right.
Yes the referee probably has to make a call
as to whether the scrum is stable enough, but let’s move away from the referee
deciding exactly when the ball should go in...
One man who will not have to worry about
the scrum feed at Newlands on Saturday is professional Bok bag carrier, Lourens
Adriaanse, who again misses out on even a spot on the bench. Tighthead props
are scarce, and life after Jannie du Plessis looks uncertain at best. Yes
Adriaanse is gaining valuable experience by spending time with the Boks, but
against a weak Australian scrum, in South Africa, would it not have been a
perfect opportunity to have a look at him in a Test environment? Instead French-based Gurthro Steenkamp gets yet another trot off the wood, despite us having
loosehead props growing on trees here in SA.
Bold call to put Bismarck du Plessis on the
bench. He is probably the best player in the world right now. Rotation works
for some teams and players, but not others. Heyneke Meyer has got a lot right
recently... Let’s hope this is another good call from the coach. Crouch, bind,
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop and editor of the recently launched free monthly digital rugby magazine called SCRUM
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