Player23 to save the scrum?
By Stephen Nell - Die Burger
Cape Town – The days of uncontested scrums are numbered and player23 will become a reality with a new law the International Rugby Board (IRB) is set to approve in May. This will compel all teams to pick 8 substitutes instead of 7.
The law will ensure that a specialist in each of the three front row positions will be picked on the substitutes bench.
South African manager of referees Andre Watson said the new law is set to become a reality from 1 August.
“There will in future be 8 players on the bench, of which you are allowed to use 7. Among the 8 we will have a loosehead prop, hooker and tighthead prop,” Watson told Sport24.
If all 7 substitutes have been used and a frontranker is injured, a specialist front-row player may be brought on as an eighth substitute.
The issue of uncontested scrums came to the fore again on Saturday when Stormers prop Wicus Blaauw left the field injured and Brian Mujati was replaced with Tiaan Liebenberg because of cramp in the 6-12 defeat to the Waratahs in Sydney.
That meant the scrums were uncontested from the 65th minute onwards.
“They were injured,” said Stormers coach Gary Gold when he was asked whether the injuries had been feigned as a way of dealing with the Waratahs’ scrumming power.
“In an ideal world we would have had JD Moller scrumming. He could not prove himself with uncontested scrums,” said Gold.
It is, however, not the first time that the Stormers have been forced to resort to uncontested scrums.
It also happened in the 8-14 defeat to the Blues and after Saturday’s incident the perception may be created that the Cape side is not up to facing opponents in the scrum.
Gold, however, was unhappy with referee Bryce Lawrence’s handling of the scrums on Saturday.
“I am surprised that Bryce penalised Wicus. How could he decide that Wicus deliberately collapsed the scrum on our feed?
“The game’s decision-makers put a lot of pressure on the poor referees to interpret the situation.”
The Waratahs had little doubt that the Stormers scrummed illegally.
Flank Schalk Burger glided in on loosehead prop Benn Robinson, which reportedly angered the Australian side.
“It effectively gives the opponent a four-man front row. The referee let him get away with it a few times, but it was good officiating to punish him,” Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh told rugbyheaven.