In many games that I have watched, both on TV and live, the scrum has been a lottery of free kicks and penalties.
In fact, in a number of the games I’ve watched, the ratio of completed scrums to some form of penalty looks to be 20:80.
It’s almost crouch-bind-set, free-kick as the new engage.
I understand the idea behind reducing the “hit” but try as I might I can’t see where that was ever part of the game under law. The scrum should have always been stationary prior to the ball being presented. That was the key to the contest. It’s just that it has been the case that this part of the game wasn’t managed. Possibly in the same way as the ball in straight part wasn’t because the referees were too busy managing the “hit”.
The new engage process might have reduced the impact which is a good thing but it has done nothing to stop the feeding, early engagement, collapsing and all of the other aspects of the scrum. One game over this weekend saw 17 minutes of reset scrums. I can’t remember ever seeing that before these new rules and if I was paying to attend that game I’d think I’d feel very short-changed.
This will not be tolerated by either the paying public or the game’s law makers. I fear that the way things are going, we will very quickly see calls for a knock-on or a forward pass to be penalised not with a scrum, but with a free-kick to restart the game and what was once a game for all sizes will be lost forever.
Photo from Sky Sports