The Fiji Rugby Union has placed all Secondary Schools and all Provincial Unions under a Scrum Moratorium that has been implemented as of 1 July, 2012.
Because of the alarming number of catastrophic injuries during rugby matches and trainings, the FRU has today sent out letters to secondary schools and unions.
Manasa Baravilala, the Fijian Rugby Union's CEO, said that this important safety initiative is to ensure the games are safe and enjoyable. It is also timely following the first meeting of the union's Sports Science and Medicine Commission on June 27, 2012 at Rugby House.
Baravilala said: "Where the focus of this meeting was to address the escalating numbers of serious injuries and deaths associated with rugby since the beginning of the year and as custodians of the game of rugby with the other stakeholders, we need to address these grave concerns.
"The key part of this safety initiative is the on-field rulings by the referees."
Fiji's national director of coaching Franck Boivert explained that this moratorium is in place to ensure the safety of all rugby players in Fiji. He also explained the variations in the scrums for secondary school teams and unions.
"Category A will be competitions who will be able to use the scrum rules that are played internationally and at this point in time it is Digicel Cup Seniors and Under 20 grade"
"In Category B, the Under-18 and Under-19 secondary schools rugby competition, it is mandatory that they play the IRB Under-19 law variation which stipulates that the scrum may not be pushed more than 1.5 meters and the scrumhalf may not follow the ball in the scrum".
But there is a strict requirement for Under-18 and Under-19 coaches. Boivert said: "They will need to be Level 1 IRB certified or they will need to play with the Safe Mode of Scrum that will be demonstrated to them by union referees and development officers.
"A secondary school coach will need to demonstrate his ability to teach safe scrum and safe tackling to contest the scrum or use the safe mode."
Boivert went on to say that for the Under-17 grades and below and lower club rugby including B Division, Island Zone they will follow the Safe Mode, and this is basically for the protection of their players.
Instead of going through the sequence of Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage the safe new Mode of Scrum will be as follows:
Front row bend their knees but not their backs; middle row (flanks and locks) have one knee on the ground, No.8 can stand, Front row players get their heads in semi-engagement next to their opposite number's head.
Players position themselves in the scrum and referee will check that all positionings are safe. There is thus no engagement per se, which is the main cause of collpased scrums
Players hold their safe positioning
The scrumhalf has 3 seconds to put the ball in and players can push after the put-in.
"For Category A all the coaches need to be IRB Level 1 accredited in coaching; they need to have the tools and competence to coach a safe scrum and safe tackle techniques."
All organizers of rugby competitions have also being advised that they need to ensure the union that all their coaches are competent in coaching safe scrimmaging and safe tackling by respecting all the key factors involved if they want to be in Category A competition.