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Law discussion: The indications' fault?

Sat, 17 Dec 2011 00:00

There is some talk about changing laws, including those dealing with the scrummage. The nearest we have to a suggestion is a change to the referee's cadence at the setting of the scrum. But surely the messy problem goes well beyond the cadence.

The suggestion is a change back to just three instructions from the referee by dropping PAUSE as being unnecessary because there are pauses between each command in any case.

Then there is a suggestion that ENGAGE be changed to SET - the monosyllable being more effective as a command than the longer word. (In French, Spanish and Italian polysyllables are the order of the day; French - FLEXION TOUCHEZ PAUSE ENTREZ; Spanish - ACUCLILLARSE TOCAR PAUSA FORMEN; Italian - BASSI TOCCO PAUSA INGAGGIO.) If the change is made English 'indications' (A prissy bit of law says: The "engage" call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when read.") CROUCH TOUCH SET.

But do we really believe that the problem is in the referee's calls, which sound more like commands than indications about joining in if you like? And there is a problem.

On Friday night, the Ospreys played the Saracens in a Heineken Cup match before fewer than 7,000 people at Liberty Stadium in Swansea. It was a cantankerous match and the scrums were again a disaster and a regular flashpoint, despite Jérôme Garces's best efforts to get them right, and he is a top referee going higher and will referee in the Six Nations this season. He did not manage to sort the problem out and resorted to many sanctions.

This is the record of the match's 14 scrums:
Collapses: 15
Resets: 5
Free kicks: 3
Penalties: 10
Yellow cards: 2
Time taken: 22 minutes 40 seconds, which is 28% of the game. 28% of 80 minutes. (Time excludes time to attend to injuries or make substitutions; it is playing time.)

That is surely not a desirable outcome and changing the cadence is surely a bit like arrangingthe deckchairs on the Titanic.

Surely it would be better to examine the 'hit' and simple things like the feeding of the scrum.

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